City digs deep to support free bus passes

October 25, 2006 4:13 PM

Cambridge City Council is ploughing hundreds of thousands of pounds from its reserves into the concessionary bus fares scheme, Leader of the City Council Ian Nimmo-Smith revealed today.

The figures were released as City Councillors prepared to consider the regular mid-year review of the Council's budgets. The Council looks likely to take just under £450,000 from its reserves with the biggest items relating to the costs of the concessionary bus fares scheme agreed earlier this year. The scheme will cost the City Council alone an extra £440,000 over two years on top of the Government's funding.

Coun Nimmo-Smith commented:

"The concessionary bus fares scheme is a great scheme to make public transport affordable for older people all over Cambridgeshire. The City Council was one of the first two local councils in the County to sign up to the final deal for free county-wide travel and we're very pleased that a scheme was finally agreed.

"However it is a very expensive scheme for the City Council. The Liberal Democrat-controlled City Council was the only one out of the five in Cambridgeshire which has been forced to dig into its reserves to this extent.

"We are urging the Government not to repeat this under-funding blunder when they come forward with a national scheme for 2008 onwards. The City Council tax payer cannot be expected to bail them out again."

The figures also show a projected shortfall in car park income to the City Council of £110,000.

Coun Nimmo-Smith added:

Ian Nimmo-Smith

Councillor Ian Nimmo-Smith

"Income from the car parks is being directly affected by the concessionary bus fares scheme, as over sixties opt for bus travel including park and ride, to come to Cambridge. We welcome this modal shift from cars to public transport, which is something we will continue to encourage in Cambridge. This is a big win for the environment but it comes at a financial cost. "

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