Scores of millions have been cut from local authority bus funding in recent years threatening entire networks, new research has revealed.
A Campaign for Better Transport report, Buses in Crisis, shows that since 2010 £78m has been cut from local authority bus funding in England and Wales resulting in over 2,400 bus services being reduced, altered or withdrawn from service.
It also found that 63% of local authorities cut funding for bus services in 2015/16, with 44% reducing or withdrawing services entirely.
The report also highlights a steep rise in fares, with ticket prices in England having shot up by more than double the rate of inflation in some areas and increasing by an average of 61% overall between March 2005 and March 2015.
Bus fares rose at a faster rate in metropolitan areas (71%) than in non-metropolitan areas (44%).
Over the same period the Retail Prices Index rose by 35%, marking a significantly price increase for fares in real terms.
Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘The bus crisis across the country is now causing real hardship for many people. Our research shows that in many areas funding cuts have now reached new depths. Many places are being left with no bus services at all and even in better served areas our research shows continuing fare rises mean people are being priced off buses.
‘Now is the time for central and local government to appreciate the real value of bus services with actions not just words. In next week's Spending Review, the chancellor George Osborne has a simple choice: go for further cuts in bus funding, with all the social and economic damage these will cause, OR recognise the vitally important role buses play for millions of people every single day and ensure they have the funding they need and deserve.’