New figures from the Department of Transport have revealed passengers took 269,000 fewer bus journeys in West Sussex last year.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 27.33 million passenger journeys in West Sussex, one per cent less than in the previous year.
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However, bus use has increased over the last eight years, with the number of passenger journeys in West Sussex increasing by 11 per cent since 2009-10, when these figures were first recorded.
Across England, there were 85 million fewer bus journeys last year, a drop of 3.2 per cent outside London and 0.7 per cent in the capital.
Bus fares across England have risen by 71 per cent since 2005.
Over the same time period, bus operators’ revenues have increased by almost £1.5 billion.
The average person took 32 bus journeys in West Sussex in 2017-18, down from 33 the previous year.
Brighton and Hove had the most passenger journeys per resident in the South East, while Windsor and Maidenhead had the fewest.
The number of concessionary journeys, taken by elderly and disabled passengers, decreased by three per cent in West Sussex.
Andy McDonald, Shadow Transport Secretary, said: “These figures underline the devastating impact of Tory cuts on local bus services. People are being denied opportunities in work and education and are cut off from friends and family, particularly those in rural areas or from low income backgrounds. At the same time, cutting and withdrawing services is worsening congestion, air pollution and our impact on climate change.”
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “It’s nearly impossible for councils to keep subsidising free travel while having to find billions of pounds worth of savings and protect other vital services like caring for the elderly and disabled, protecting children, filling potholes and collecting bins. Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “It is for councils to decide which bus operations to support in their areas, but we help to subsidise costs through around £250million worth of investment every year. £42million of this is already devolved to local authorities and a further £1billion funds the free bus pass scheme, benefiting older and disabled people across the country.”
• Report by Ralph Blackburn, data reporter