Hampshire consults on cuts, and fares for pensioners

Cresta Coaches YJ57 YCW, a now rare surviving example of an Optare Alero, in New Alresford on Thursdays-only route 240 (Ropley-Alresford), a Hampshire rural route that negotiates narrow country lanes.

A two month-long consultation by Hampshire County Council is examining options for reducing its transport budget, most of which is spent on concessionary fare reimbursement.

Hampshire supports 83 routes, and the consultation document includes the cost of each route as well as the number of passengers. The most expensive is route 4 (Basingstoke-Chineham) operated by Stagecoach South, where the £233,303 cost is funded by Section 106 developer contributions. The smallest subsidy, £3,368, is paid to Herrington Coaches for Tuesdays-only route 49, offering one return journey between Damerham and Salisbury.

Its target is to save £1.1million from the £4million annual cost, by selective reductions in operations, such as fewer days per week. However, it also asking for views on replacing some bus services with community transport options that would have to be booked in advance, and simultaneously removing concessionary pass use from such services.

As concessionary fares cost the county £13.4million, it is seeking support for its previous proposal of charging passholders 50p per journey. It says this could raise £4million per year, but cannot be implemented unless there is a change in legislation.

Hampshire also suggests that it could reduce its £70,000 spend on printed publicity, leaving it to ‘local transport operators to provide this information’ alongside electronic versions.