THE county council has re-stated is commitment to protecting £900,000 for community transport services including Dial-a-Ride.

Hampshire County Council supports over 80 bus routes across Hampshire that are not commercially viable and which would not operate without the authority’s subsidy.

Under the revised proposals, 33 will now see no change and a further 40 will continue to operate on the same day as now but with a slightly reduced frequency — with no community that is currently served by a bus service losing a service altogether.

Last year the authority originally proposed a saving of £4million, but, following a meeting of the full council last month, it is now limiting the cuts to just over £1million on passenger transport.

Authority leader, Councillor Roy Perry said: “I’d like to emphasise how carefully we have looked at each and every bus route to minimise the impact of any changes on communities.

“For elderly people in particular who may no longer be able to drive, a bus service remains very important. I am pleased to note that Hampshire is one of the few parts of the country where bus usage is actually increasing with bus use close to a 20 year high, and I applaud the bus companies that operate modern, responsive and forward looking services.

“Robust passenger numbers is the key to sustainable public transport in the future. To help achieve this, we continue to work with the bus operators on improvements such as contactless payments and on-board wi-fi, encouraging more people to try bus travel.

“In addition, we also continue to press the case to government that, as important as the Freedom Bus pass is for elderly residents, it would make sense to allow a small token charge to cover the administration costs so that we have more funds to support bus services. A free bus with no bus service is no use at all.”

The council launched a public consultation last year for residents and stakeholders to give their thoughts on the proposals which also included switching off street lights for part of the night in a bid to make savings of more than £1 million for the coming year.