Suffolk County Council is looking to see whether certain bus companies can run a number of bus services without public subsidy, following a reduction in the amount of public money available.

The meeting, involving 11 of Suffolk’s biggest bus operating companies, follows decisions taken in February 2019 on how to save £13 million from Suffolk County Council’s budget, including £340,000 from the authority’s passenger transport budget.

In 2017/18 the 23 services at risk were responsible for 107,624 single journeys out of a total of 14.9 million journeys taken across the county. This means that the services are responsible for only 0.7% of journeys per year.

A full list of the affected routes can be found in the document below. This includes services where the council is currently paying a subsidy of £12.64 per single ticket which equates to over £25.00 per round trip.

Download the above document (PDF 1.4MB)

Download the above map (PDF 4.4MB)

The council spends money on supporting a range of bus services that are not commercially viable.

This year the budget available to deliver these subsidised registered local bus services is being reduced.

Up until now the criteria was based on the amount of subsidy per passenger and local knowledge.  A much more thorough way of assessing the criteria for funding services was needed so a cross-party Policy Development Panel was set up.  This cross party Policy Development Panel has agreed on the following 6 criteria when assessing local bus service services:-

  • Subsidy per single ticket
  • Average single tickets per day
  • Percentage of those journeys by concessionary pass holders
  • Number of eligible students using service
  • Level of integration with commercially delivered services
  • Service type (daily/evenings/Sundays etc)

When applied, this methodology then results in a score that either increases or decreases the need for local bus service provision.  It is important that we have a consistent method for evaluating these to ensure that decisions are made in a robust and transparent way. The maximum score is 65. The services at risk range in score from 8 to 26.

There are 23 bus routes out of the 61 subsidised by Suffolk County Council which are at risk under the new methodology. In total there are 211 commercial bus routes across the county which operate without public funding.

Progress with operators, solutions proposed will be reviewed and the end of July 2019 to decide on next steps.

According to the data we have received from the bus operators, most of the services at risk operate with very limited passengers per day, meaning that these vehicles are contributing to the carbon footprint but are not being utilised to full capacity. Some services carry a very high level of subsidy – as much as more than £14 per passenger per single journey.

The Council is required to have regard to the transport needs of members of the public who are elderly or disabled.  This provision is delivered by the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS).

If you currently have an ENCTS card and there is no local bus service available, you can apply to have taxi vouchers to the value of £100 instead of a bus pass.  Certain criteria apply.  Please click here for further information.

If your child is eligible for Suffolk County Council (SCC) funded school travel under the School Travel Policies then we will ensure your child continues to receive travel to and from school.

If your child does not have SCC funded school travel but pays fares to the bus operator, there maybe local solutions such as another operator or partner organisations taking on the route or the school operating a minibus service.

To see what your nearest commercial service is, please go to our journey planner.

Community Transport providers maybe able to help with some of these journeys.  Please click here to find out further information about this service in your area.

You can also find out about Suffolk Car Share via this link

To find out who your local Councillor is, please click here to find out more

Please send any comments or feedback to or you can call on the general line phone number 0345 606 6067 (option7). You can write to us at:-

Passenger Transport
Growth, Highways and Infrastructure
5 Constantine Road

Page last updated on Tuesday 18 June 2019