Following two public consultations, county councillors have agreed to reduce the amount of money the county council provides to commercial bus operators to fund some services in Hertfordshire.

We directly fund approximately 11 per cent of all passenger journeys made in Hertfordshire each year. The other 89 per cent are provided by bus companies on a commercial basis. This reduction will affect no more than two per cent of the total passenger journeys made each year, but will save a total of £1.471million in taxpayers’ money in a full year.

We appreciate this decision will impact on a small number of people. However, given the financial pressure that we face we simply cannot continue to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise bus services at this level.

Importantly, we are committed to working with bus operators, community transport groups and the voluntary sector to consider and develop the available alternative transport options for older and vulnerable bus users, and we are hopeful that others will step forward with a solution to continue to run the services without the council’s subsidy.

Since 2010, we have taken more than £170m of savings from our budget through making efficiencies, working in partnership and being innovative. But we still need to make further savings of £119.8m by 2017/18, of which £56.4m still needs to be identified.

The changes mean that we will no longer fund bus services after 7.30pm Monday to Saturday and will not fund services on a Sunday except for routes that directly serve hospitals up to 7.30pm. Together these measures will save taxpayers £662,000 each year. We have also agreed to amendments to the bus strategy, including changes to the value for money criteria, which is used by the council in deciding which bus services should be subsidised from the bus budget. This means some bus services will be reduced or withdrawn and enables us to make additional savings of up to a further £809,000 each year.

The changes come into effect from September 2015 and information will be updated as and when it is known at, including information on whether other providers commit to running any of the affected services.

Derrick Ashley

Cabinet member for environment, planning and transport at Hertfordshire County Council