COUNTY highways chiefs have vowed to launch the biggest review of public transport in in a bid to help local residents avoid the ‘scourge’ of loneliness and social isolation.
Speaking ahead of the proposals being debated at County Hall on June 6, Highways portfolio holder Councillor Alan Amos revealed plans for a new Passenger Transport Strategy which will face 12 weeks of public consultation.
Worcestershire County Council spends £30million on different types of transport.
The review will look at every form of transport across the county, including home-to-school, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and social care, commercial and subsidised bus services, community transport and concessionary fares.
The review will also look at fares and ticketing, real-time bus information boards, bus shelters and integrated transport provision.
Coun Amos said every transport option and every section of the authority’s budget would be thoroughly scrutinised – with no exceptions.
“Rather than facing twice yearly cuts of bus routes by the bus companies, I want to put the whole network onto a much more secure longer-term footing by finding out what services people actually want, what they’re prepared to pay for, and how the county council can assist both financially and logistically with it all,” he said.
“In particular, we want a network which allows people to get to and from work, school, shopping, healthcare, leisure and social activities, and going to the library.
“We need specifically to consider the 17 per cent of the population who do not have a car or drive and to address the needs of elderly people as 19 per cent of the population is 65 or over, to avoid the scourge of loneliness and social isolation, and other quality of life issues.
“We need to address the staggering population growth the county is facing, with the building of nearly 50,000 new houses by 2036, equating to between 150,000-200,000 new residents, a scale unprecedented,” he added.
Coun Amos revealed he was keen to develop community transport for more remote areas and to back community groups and volunteer drivers who run schemes on a not-for-profit basis.
“On home-to-school transport and SEND provision, I am sure we can run things in a better and more cost-effective way by getting rid of duplication and ensuring our services are better co-ordinated and rationalised,” he added.