A two-day inquiry hearing into public transport provision in Buckinghamshire has heard evidence from more than 30 contributors representing a wide cross-section of the community.
The hearings (on Thursday and Friday, July 24, 25) are a key part of the County Council's cross-party Environment, Transport and Locality Service Select Committee's examination gauging aspirations for public transport towards 2020 and beyond.
Set against the background of continuing public sector austerity which is putting pressure on budgets, the inquiry aims to enable the County Council to match its future support for public transport more efficiently and effectively to the needs of communities.
Select Committee Chairman Warren Whyte explained how the hearings would help the inquiry examine what public transport needs to look like in the future.
'The evidence given over these two days will help us to understand what's there at the moment, how people's needs are being met, and how those needs are changing and likely to change over the next five years and longer,' said Mr Whyte.
'It's emerging from the evidence that Buckinghamshire has a complex mixture of public transport – much more than we appreciated,' he said.
'There's a huge amount of community-led activity, and we greatly appreciate volunteer effort across the county. However, we're beginning to see gaps that need to be filled, and these appear to be related to age – both young and old – and to mobility.
'And it's very clear the difference between town needs and rural needs rules out one-size-fits-all solutions,' he said.
The Select Committee will examine the two days of evidence during the coming weeks to decide where more information is needed, and which groups and individuals still need to contribute.
'Our aim is to be in a stronger position to target support much more effectively to ensure a sustainable and affordable public transport network in a time of increasing financial constraint,' said Mr Whyte.
'We need to answer the big question about our current public transport support: "If we were to start all over again, would it look like this?".'