Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from the Campaign for National Parks (BUS 13)

The Committee is particularly interested to receive evidence on:

—  the impact of the reduction in Bus Service Operators' Grant, including on community transport;

—  the impact of the reduction in local authority grant support to bus services and other changes to the funding of local authority bus schemes and services by the Department for Transport;

—  the implementation and financial implications of free off-peak travel for elderly and disabled people on all local buses anywhere in England under the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007; and

—  how passengers' views are taken into account in planning bus services, and the role of Passenger Focus in this area.


The Campaign for National Parks (CNP) is the national charity that campaigns to protect and promote National Parks for the benefit and quiet enjoyment of all. There are 10 members of the National Parks family in England, covering 9% of the land surface. The statutory purposes of National Park Authorities are to conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage; and to promote opportunities for public enjoyment and understanding of Parks' special qualities.


CNP is very interested in transport policy and practice in and around National Parks, and is therefore taking a keen interest in proposals to change or cut back public transport services, where these would have an impact on National Parks. In National Parks, the dual transport challenge is ensuring the local population, who are often rural based, can travel to reach essential services and work places, whilst at the same time delivering a safe, welcoming and efficient transport network for the large influx of visitors. All of this must be achieved in a way that sustains the special qualities and character of these beautiful landscapes. This challenge is one that is shared between National Park Authorities, the transport authorities and transport service providers.

It is vital that National Parks are connected into a transport system that is fit to meet the pressing environmental and demographic challenges of the 21st Century, including climate change, population growth and people's changing attitude towards travel and exercise.


We are very concerned at the impacts of a reduction in Bus Service Operator's Grant (BSOG), and on local authority support to bus services. We already know of planned cuts to essential long-standing leisure and commuting services that would have a major impact on National Parks, such as the popular Dalesbus and Moors Bus and some connecting services (see eg http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/localnews/Changes-will-bring-cuts-to.5679822.jp; and http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/opinion/Colin-Speakman-Cuts-threaten-worldclass.6665777.jp). These services, and others like them (eg the Shropshire Hills Shuttle), have worked very hard to be integrated with the wider transport network, with aligned service times and joint ticketing. They have increased the numbers of park visitors and residents opting to leave their cars at home - thus helping to address climate change, energy efficiency, congestion and road safety within the National Parks. Without subsidy through the BSOG, these services would have to charge much higher fares. This would either turn people back to their cars, or make countryside visits and travel unaffordable for many. It would also hit many small business in the National Parks hard, given the relatively high spending on local services by public transport users (especially overseas visitors who tend to be more environmentally aware) in local shops, guest houses, pubs and cafes and visitor attractions in National Parks. Tourism is a major industry in all of the National Parks, a vital source of local employment and important earner of overseas currency.

The 2010 review of the Moorsbus service in the North York Moors National Park has concluded that the service will need to cut its number of operating days to deal with the expected loss of external funding. 13.7% of passengers surveyed in 2009 said they would have come to the National Park (by car) on the day of survey if no bus had been available. In 2009 approximately 47% of passengers surveyed did not own a car, and this section of the community at least will be disadvantaged by having access to the National Park restricted.

It is very important that the impacts on leisure bus services connecting town and country are taken seriously. National Parks must be enjoyed in a sustainable way, by all sectors of society. Evidence suggests that spending time in beautiful open countryside is a key component of health and well-being, and fundamental to our quality of life - improving bus services to National Parks is one way to ensure that this happens.

Local bus services are also vital for the economic and social well being of communities living within the National Parks, especially as these contain a higher than average proportion of older people, not all of whom can afford or are physically able to drive a car, but also of young people working in less well paid jobs within the tourist industry who also rely on threatened evening and Sunday services for employment, educational and social opportunities. Loss of rural buses will force people on lower incomes to move out of many villages and small towns in National Parks, creating serious problems of social imbalance as well as shortages of workers in key services sector industries.

We draw attention to the opportunities that may be offered through the new Local Sustainable Transport Fund for local authorities to work with National Park Authorities, local communities and stakeholder organisations to find new, cost effective ways to meet the needs of both local resident and visitors within National Parks, and urge the Select Committee to encourage and support one or more pilot projects in the National Parks to see if this approach can work. We also encourage the Select Committee to recommend that the guidance on the fund should encourage bids to be made at a National Park scale and for National Park Authorities to have the option to make bids directly to the fund, either individually or in partnerships with the relevant Highway Authorities.

December 2010

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