At the beginning of February 2012 Torbay Council announced that the reimbursement that is paid to bus companies under the Concessionary bus pass scheme was to be cut by 30% from the 1 March. Rightly or wrongly this reimbursement has, over the years become a substantial part of bus companies income. Unfortunately it has, due to under funding from central government, become a burden on many local councils like Torbay.
The proposal to cut this reimbursement has already caused Stagecoach to suggest that cuts to services and increase in fares is inevitable. Smaller operators in the Bay are more likely to be forced out of business if this cut comes in because as well as this loss of income the government is planning to reduce by 20% the fuel tax rebate paid to bus operators. It would appear to an innocent mind like me that the Tory Government don't want buses to clutter up our roads any more at a time when every thing should be being done to get cars, not buses of the road.
At the Torbay Mayor's forum yesterday I asked if the council realise the full implications these probable bus service cuts would have on the Bay and if in the future when more money becomes available their inability to make these cuts go away. I was fobbed of with the answer that the cuts were within government guide lines. Later I had a brief discussion with a council official who explained that discussions with all the bus companies in the Bay were still ongoing and that basically we would have to wait and see what came out of these talks. Hopefully something good.