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Thursday 8th December 2011 | 15:57
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, responding to the announcement of a new package of measures for bus services, said:
“The government has finally accepted that we have been right to warn of a disaster facing local transport as one in five supported bus services have been left facing the axe as a result of government cuts. Norman Baker’s response is too little too late, goes nowhere near making up for the half a billion pounds cut from local transport budgets in the past year alone and does nothing to remove his growing reputation as the Beeching for the buses. The response to the isolation crisis facing countryside communities is totally inadequate and Ministers are completely out of touch with the reality of getting around in rural areas if they think that dial a ride services and minibuses can cover the huge gaps caused by the loss of regular bus services.
“We have already seen a decline in the number of young people being able to stay on in education thanks to the disastrous combination of bus cuts and the loss of EMA. While those looking for work, the group in society least likely to have access to a car, are finding it harder and harder to afford to travel to interviews or look further afield for new employment opportunities. And older people are being left isolated as they realise that the Prime Minister’s election promise to protect their bus pass was meaningless without a local bus service.”