As local authorities around England and Wales are forced to cut back services because of reductions in funding from central Government, subsidised bus services are in the firing line. Bodies such as the Campaign for Better Transport have highlighted a potential 70% reduction in subsidised bus operations.
The potential problem faced by an average provincial town outside London and away from Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) areas can be seen here in Crewe.
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On the face of it, the town appears to have a pretty good bus network – until you itemise the services that operate “commercially” (without subsidy). In and around Crewe, these are:
6 Shavington – Crewe – Leighton Hospital. 3 buses per hour M-F daytime, 2 Saturday daytime, otherwise hourly. Subsidised evenings and Sundays.
20 Hanley – Crewe – Leighton Hospital. 2 buses per hour weekday daytime, otherwise hourly, extra services Sunday between Crewe and Leighton. Whether any journeys are subsidised is unknown.
31 and 31A Crewe – Winsford – Northwich. 2 buses per hour. No service after 1900 weekdays, no Sunday service.
37 Crewe – Sandbach – Winsford – Northwich. Hourly. No service after 1830 weekdays, no Sunday service.
38 Crewe – Macclesfield. Hourly. Subsidised evenings and Sundays.
84 Crewe – Chester. 4 buses per hour weekday daytime Crewe to Nantwich, 2 going on to Chester, otherwise Hourly. Subsidised evenings and Sundays.
D1 Crewe – Sandbach Common. Hourly. No service after 1800 Monday to Friday, one bus Saturday, no Sunday service.
Now have another look at that map. All the services not listed above are only there through local authority subsidy. And that subsidy is now under serious pressure.