Kent County Council could cut funding to bus services

by Paul Francis

Dozens of bus routes including a number of Kent school services could be axed by Kent County Council in a bid to save £4m. 

More than 70 routes - known as Socially Necessary Bus Services (SNBS) - would be affected by the proposed cuts. 

Socially Necessary Bus Services are subsidised by the council because they are not considered comercially viable routes by bus operators.

Many bus services in Kent could be under threat

Many bus services in Kent could be under threat

They represent around 3% of bus journeys across Kent or 3.8million journeys and many run through rural areas. 

A report says 74 services would be affected by the proposed cuts. These contracts currently provide 1.6m journeys a year.

The proposed contracts to be withdrawn comprise:

  • 28 full services (incl peak/schools)

  • 22 full services (off peak, no schools)

  • 5 evenings-only

  • 5 Sunday-only

  • 14 School-days-only services (for schools travel)

School buses could be among those cut

School buses could be among those cut

The cost-cutting measures would save KCC £2 million next year and £2m the year after. 

Although council chiefs say the changes may also lead to a number of bus operators closing down, particularly in West Kent.

Just 34 Socially Necessary Bus Services would remain under the cuts proposed but transport chiefs say there is a possibility that some could be run by commercial operators who may step in.

“From experience in the UK, where local authorities have been forced to reduce support to SNBS, counties such as Lancashire and Oxfordshire, have seen operators come forward with proposals to offset some of the lost links.”

There is no statutory requirement on councils to provide such bus services but most do - although they have become the target for cuts by cash-strapped authorities.

Campaign groups say such services are a lifeline for many - often most used by the young and elderly - and point to research that shows 64% of jobseekers also either have no access to a vehicle or cannot drive.

A decision on which services could end will be made in December, with consultation beginning in  January before a decision is made in May and contracts with current operators ending in September should proposals go ahead. 

Bus services at risk under the county council’s budget cuts

332 Sittingbourne-Yelstead Stockbury-Sittingbourne

634 Greenhill - Reculver / Bishopstone

292, 299 Hawkhurst - Tenterden

541/542/544 Deal - Dover - Sandwich & Canterbury

232, 234, 238, 632 Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, Hever & Penshurst

255 Benenden - Tunbridge Wells

10x Maidstone - Ashford - William Harvey Hospital

5 (Evenings) Maidstone - Hawkhurst/Sandhurst

423, 489 (Evenings) New Ash Green - Dartford / Gravesend

401 Westerham - Tonbridge

59 Maidstone, Grafty Green, Hollingbourne/Leeds, Stile Bridge, Hunton, Marden

59 Maidstone - Grafty Green

293 Tunbridge Wells - Tenterden - Rye

662, 664, 666 Norton-Lynsted-Faversham-Sheldwich

203 Paddock Wood - Benover

266 Kilndown - Maidstone

367 Sheerness - Warden Point

234 Edenbridge Ridgeway - Cross Key Schools

82, 82A Deal - Kingsdown

24 Sandhurst - Maidstone

222 Wrotham -Tonbridge

11 Lydd - Ashford - William Harvey Hospital

292 Jury's Gap - Tenterden

70 Borough Green - Lunsford Park

404, 405 Edenbridge - Shipbourne, Plaxtol,Sevenoaks & West Kingsdown

296 Tunbridge Wells - Paddock Wood

88 Maidstone - Kings Hill

235 Penshurst - Hildenborough Station

58 Addington - Trottiscliffe - Ryarsh - West Malling - Maidstone

151 Chatham Maritime-Kings Hill/Lunsford Park

60, 61, 61A Aycliffe - Whitfield - Dover - Whitfield

666 Ashford - Faversham

4 / 645 Reculver - Greenhill

38, 38A Palm Bay - Ramsgate - Manston - Birchington

13 Maidstone - Langley -Leeds - Hollingbourne - Bearsted

433 New Ash Green - Dartford/Gravesend

638 Faversham - Whitstable

326, 327 Sittingbourne - Medway Hospital

286 Hartfield - Speldhurst - Tunbridge Wells

237 Chiddingstone - Tunbridge Wells War Memorial

123 Ashford - Biddenden

12 Maidstone - Tenterden

18A Ashford - Canterbury

474, 475 Bluewater - Hartley

5 Canterbury - Seasalter

667 Canterbury - Charing

111 Ashford - Dover

8, 9, 9A, 343, 344, 345 The Meads-Rodmersham /Bredgar - Newnham

293/294 Tenterden - Rolvenden Layne, Tenterden- Appledore

267/268 Hawkhurst - Tunbridge Wells/Tonbridge

200 Hildenborough - Hildenborough Station

61, 63 Whitfield - Aydliffe

360 Rushenden - Leysdown

60, 61, 61A Aycliffe- Whitfield- Dover - Whitfield

150 Maidstone - Walderslade

553 Brookland - Rye

649 Wincheap - Canterbury Laws Courts

297 Tenterden - Tunbridge Wells

202, 211 Tonbridge - Barden Park/Hildenborough & Station

311 Lower Higham - Meopham School

421 Sevenoaks-Swanley

216, 219, 277 T.Wells/T'bridge/Willow Lea- Pembury

306, 308 Northfleet, Borough Green, Bluewater & Wrotham

149, 151 Chatham Maritime-Kings Hill/Lunsford Park

280, 283 Tunbridge Wells Circular

36 Herne Bay - Margate/ QEQM Hospital

620 Canterbury - Hastingleigh

42, 42A Monkton - Ramsgate

204, 210 Tonbridge - Underriver/Leigh/Charcott

18 Canterbury - Hythe

207 Horsmonden - Bennett Memorial School

125 Ashford - Aldington

660 Stalisfield Green - Tankerton

B Line Ashford - Park Farm

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