Real life consequences of bus cuts…

It’s all very well for the leaders of the councils in the region and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) mayor, Dan Norris, to sit in their meetings bickering about funding while presiding over drastic and life wrecking bus service cuts. Norris can wring his hands all he wants, blaming the government on the one hand and the leaders of the three councils who comprise WECA on the other for the lack of funding, at the end of the day, they all have to be made accountable for the consequences of their decisions.

Further cuts to the already beleaguered bus services across the region will happen in April. These cuts will have adverse impacts on many people. They will limit and stunt people’s lives. People will not be able to lead the lives they were living because they will effectively be stranded. When people can’t get to medical appointments, that will impact their health. Here are just three out of the many reports in the local media highlighting the dire consequences these cuts will have:

North East Somerset bus cuts will leave older people ‘even lonelier’ 8.2.23

Isolation concerns as bus services in North East Somerset to be cut 9.2.23

South Bristol will become ‘bus desert’ after service cuts, transport campaigners warn 11.2.23

This isn’t about balancing the numbers on a balance sheet. It’s about people struggling to get to the shops, hospitals, schools, colleges and workplaces. It’s about people struggling to visit friends and relatives. It’s about lives being stunted and diminished. The leaders in the region can bicker among each other and try to shift the blame all they want but it won’t absolve them and the government of responsibility for the suffering they’re inflicting on people.

Some of those who were using the axed services may be able to use a car instead. On the one hand, local and regional councils are exhorting us to use the car less and switch to public transport or ‘active travel’ such as walking and cycling. On the other hand, they’re implementing cuts which will force people to use the car because there’s no alternative. As for those who don’t have access to a car, there are a range of legitimate reasons why so called ‘active travel’ is not an option. Outside of health considerations, that will be down to the fact that in a good few areas, the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is inadequate.

Enough is enough. In a supposedly civilised country, the bus service cuts that are being inflicted upon us shouldn’t be acceptable. The local and regional councils and the government need to be held accountable for the suffering these cuts will inflict.

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