Is this any way to encourage more people to catch a country bus? STEVE EDMONDSON

There is a gloomy theme in some of our content this month if you seek it out and connect the dots. First Bus is finally withdrawing from the Essex coastal towns of Clacton and Walton, while the outcome of a crowdfunding appeal will decide the future of a skeleton winter Sunday service in Dorset. Transdev is scaling back in east Lancashire after patronage fell short of encouraging responses made when it consulted its public. And the community-conscious Delaine Buses has given up on a brave effort to maintain an unsustainable route in south Lincolnshire.

Nothing encourages either party to attract extra custom that might reduce or eliminate the subsidy bill

In his Inside Track column, Julian Peddle tells of struggling to maintain some semblance of viable service in small market towns and surrounding villages in the face of falling patronage, vanishing subsidies and increasing traffic congestion.

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