Bus journeys down by 700,000 across Shropshire
Fewer people are taking local buses in the county, new data has revealed.
The latest Department for Transport data shows there were 4.3 million bus passenger journeys in Shropshire between April 2017 and March 2018, 300,000 fewer than in the previous year.
There were also 400,000 fewer journeys in Telford & Wrekin, where 3.9 million bus passenger trips took place between April 2017 and March last year.
Central and local government funding for local bus services has also plummeted by about 25 per cent in the past eight years.
In Shropshire, £2.9m was spent on local bus services during the 12 months to March 2018, while £480,000 was spent in Telford & Wrekin.
- Shropshire buses: Look at how Swiss roll, says professor
- Star Comment: Better buses could avoid a lot of hassle
Nearly half of all bus routes in England receive partial or complete subsidies from councils.
The Local Government Association has warned these services are at risk unless councils are given more funding.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Buses are vital for connecting people, homes and businesses, which is why we help subsidise costs by about £250 million every year and support local authority spending.
“Local authorities spend a further £1 billion on the free bus pass scheme, benefiting older and disabled people across the country.
“We have also recently published our plans to make bus travel more convenient for passengers by ensuring better access to real-time information on fares, routes and services.”
Across England, local bus passenger journeys decreased by two per cent from 2016-17 to 2017-18, to 4.36 billion journeys.
In Shropshire, 49 per cent of the local bus passenger journeys were taken by elderly or disabled people with some kind of discount in 2017-18.
It was 35 per cent in Telford & Wrekin.
The Labour Party has pledged that it will spend £1.3bn a year expanding bus services in England if elected.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said bus services are a ‘lifeline’ for many people.
Mr Corbyn said: “Cuts to services in the past decade have had disastrous consequences for our towns and city centres and for air pollution and the environment.
"What we're doing is trying to help the whole community by ensuring there's good public transport.
"We've moved on a bit since Margaret Thatcher once said anyone on a bus over the age of 25 is a failure."