NEWS that bus company First Kernow will cut its evening services from Helston to the Lizard Peninsula has caused alarm to those who rely on public transport.
A new summer timetable shows the last bus to leave Helston for The Lizard departs from Tesco Superstore at 5.30pm on weekdays, with another for St Keverne leaving 11 minutes later. The service previously offered buses to the Peninsula up to 11pm.
These cuts will cause difficulties for many residents who rely on the service to access healthcare, social activities, community events and shops, as well as visiting friends and family.
In a speech on the role of buses in 2014, the Secretary of State for Transport said: “Buses support jobs of which more than one and a half million have been created by this government. For many people, buses may be their only way to get to work. All of which means buses are one of the truly essential public services.”
With less employment and amenities in rural areas the reliance on public transport increases, yet these routes are often the most neglected.
First Kernow’s decision to cut later services will also force extra vehicles onto our roads and does nothing to help government targets of reducing emissions.
Even though buses use more fuel than cars, the average amount of energy required per passenger is far less and using public transport can help individuals to lower their personal carbon footprint.
First Kernow may argue that the cuts were needed due to low passenger numbers during the evening, yet I am frequently informed by residents of the Peninsula that unreliability, a sporadic service and high costs forced many people to seek alternatives years ago.
A reduced service will lead to growing isolation among older people with many rely entirely on public transport. Older and retired people make a huge contribution to society, undertaking volunteering and providing vital childcare support to family members who wouldn’t otherwise be able to return to work.
Is it time The Environment Agency investigates the lack of funding behind these cuts and offers more subsidies to keep our bus service running?