People urged to have their say as Devon County Council begins a consultation on cutting £1.7m from public transport.

North Devon could see a raft of changes to bus services after Devon County Council launched proposals to cut £1.7million from its public transport budget.

A consultation was launched today (Monday) to ask service users for their views on the proposed reductions.

Councillors agreed earlier this month to reduce its expenditure on bus services that require council funding to operate.

The council said it was the first time in four years it had proposed cutting bus services, but the reductions were necessary as part of efforts to save £110 million by 2017 due to its reduced settlement from the Government.

“We have pledged that no communities which are currently served by a bus will be entirely cut off, and these proposals intend to protect weekly links,” said Councillor Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highway management.

“The starting point for the services proposed for withdrawal or reduction has been those with low usage or the high cost of subsidy, some costing more than £20 per passenger trip. Clearly we can’t afford to continue providing that level of funding.

“Even when these savings are introduced, we will still be spending more than £4million on public transport. On top of that, we’ll be paying bus companies in Devon a further £2.5 million over and above what the Government gives us to fund pensioners’ free bus passes, which costs the county more than £9 million a year to run.”

The council said to help ease the impact it had set up a three year fund of £100,000 per year, to help community transport providers broaden services to include more general access for communities.

In North Devon, this will mean...

* The council is proposing to withdraw support for Service 7/303 South Molton to Barnstaple and to withdraw Service 656 Riddlecombe to Chulmleigh.

* The national bus pass would no longer be valid on service 302 Ilfracombe to Woolacombe.

Barnstaple Town Service 8 and 10 would reduce frequencies to half hourly instead of every 20 minutes.

* Fare Car 12, serving the Holsworthy and Okehampton, would be completely withdrawn, while Fare Car F10, serving South Molton, would only run on Saturdays.

* Due to low usage, Service 15X Bideford to Atlantic Village would be withdrawn.

* Monday to Saturday evening Service 8E Barnstaple to Whiddon Valley would be completely withdrawn.

* Some pupils not entitled to school transport will be affected. They are those either living within the qualifying distance of their school (two miles to primary schools and three miles to secondary schools), or are not attending their local school.

* Entitled pupils will be catered for with alternative arrangements or extensions of existing commercial services. Among those affected is Service 85C, which would be completely withdrawn. An alternative service is available between Holsworthy and Barnstaple and entitled pupils would be catered for between St Giles on the Heath and Holsworthy.

The consultation closes on Monday, April 20. Full details of all of the proposals are available at www.toughchoices.co.uk