9:00am Monday 6th January 2014
By Tom Edwards
MORE taxpayers’ money should be spent on promoting public transport, according to a Worcestershire politician.
Councillor Matthew Jenkins, from the Green Party, says he fears that services like Worcester’s park and rides are in great danger unless they are looked at more positively.
He says Worcestershire County Council’s Conservative leadership must start to look at the current public transport network as an asset, rather than a liability.
It comes after the council revealed plans to scrap a £3 million public transport subsidy from September, putting 88 bus services and park and rides at Persdiswell and Sixways at risk.
On the Perdiswell park and ride service 340,000 journeys are now made a year compared to 450,000 back in 2008.
Coun Jenkins said: “The figures show people are out there but if you put them off using the service, they won’t come back.
“There are a lot more potential customers out there but we’ve got to tempt them back into it again.
“It’s the council’s responsibility to not only provide an over-arching vision for how people travel, but encourage them to use public transport.
“My concern is that if we don’t promote the benefits of it, other people won’t – pollution from cars is a major cause of pollution and illness.
“If we don’t worry about this nobody else will.”
The council is under huge financial pressure and needs to slash £98 million from spending by 2017, including well over 600 job losses.
It includes ending the public transport funding, in the hope private operators can take on both park and ride sites in Worcester and some of the subsidised routes.
If routes can be saved it is likely to mean higher fares, less frequent services, or both.
Councillor John Smith, the cabinet member responsible for highways and transportation, said: “We don’t want anything to go, we just have to make them commercially viable and they’ve got to be used by the public.
“What he says may well be true but we’ve got to make a decision.”
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