Council saves more than £300,000 on concessionary fares after many bus services across Northamptonshire pulled

July's bus protest in Wellingborough (pic by Fred Harris).
July's bus protest in Wellingborough (pic by Fred Harris).

Northamptonshire County Council is set to save more than £300,000 in concessionary fares payments after it cut its subsidised bus routes across the county.

21 routes were pulled from the bus network last summer after the cash strapped council decided it could no longer afford to put in funds to keep the services running.

Routes such as the 67 from Gretton To Market Harborough, the W8 from Bozeat to Wellingborough and the 60 from Welford to Northampton had their funding pulled as part of the money saving move. The decision was hugely unpopular and police even had to be called to a protest about the ending of the number 34 that took passengers between Wellingborough and Kettering.

The authority, which on the homestraight to setting a balanced budget, is now predicting that it will make a £323,000 saving this financial year through a reduction in the number of concessionary fare users riding on buses in the county. It will also to save a further £853,000 by the reduction in the subsidy network.

A spokesman for the council said: “While the reduction is partly due to the withdrawal of subsidised services, it also reflects a gradual decline of use of concessionary passes from 6.1million journeys in Northamptonshire in 2013/14 to 5.4million journeys in 2017/18 and continuing. The reasons for this will include the increase in the age of eligibility, but also factors like the price of fuel having reduced in real terms, and reduced cost of parking.”

Concessionary fares give free travel for the over 65s and people with certain disabilities.

Bus operators send data about the number of concessionary journeys through to the county council’s transport team each month which then uses a complex formula to calculate the amount it will pay the bus company.

Northamptonshire County Council says that on average it pays the bus operator about half of the full fare.