CAMPAIGNERS battling to save south Devon’s rural bus services say the fight goes on.

Dawlish and Teignbridge councillor Alison Foden has been fighting to improve rural bus services for several years.

Cllr Foden, who works at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and uses the bus services regularly but she says outside of main cities, the service is not acceptable.

She is appealing for help to ensure the government provides a ‘fair, reliable and efficient’ service for all.

She is asking MPs Anne Marie Morris and Mel Stride to help by urging them to call on Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper MP, for increased Government funding for Devon

Cllr Foden said: ‘The current model of funding from the Government for public bus transport is unfair. Cities in the south-east of England gain millions more in funding for improving their bus services, than counties in the South West do.

‘In the recent funding from the Government’s Bus Back Better fund of £1.4 billion, Reading received £26.3 million funding for the town’s bus services from the Department for Transport and its population is less than 200,000.

‘In comparison, Devon, with a population of 1.2 million received just £14 million funding for the whole county’s bus services.

‘How can it be fair that the funding for improving the provision, regularity and reliability of public bus services across the UK was based on the Department of Transport’s judgement of the applications received from the towns, cities, counties and regions?’

Cllr Foden has written to both MPs asking for their support to improve Devon’s bus network and to help residents to travel by sustainable public bus transport.

She says she has received replies from both MPs saying they had contacted the Department for Transport. 

Cllr Foden commented: ‘I believe that we need to change the record of bus services on rural routes in Devon being less frequent, reliable and efficient – and perhaps seen as inferior – when compared to bus services within cities and large towns such as Exeter, and change it to bus services on urban and rural routes being just as equally reliable, frequent, efficient and fair-priced.’

She suggests that the Government ‘agenda’ for ‘levelling-up’ transport of bus services and public transport in Devon has been forgotten.

Cllr Foden is calling for increased Government funding for the whole of Devon on rural, small town and village routes as well as within cities.  

She said: ‘This in turn could help our local economy by enabling people to travel to work, shops, schools and within their communities.’

The current £2 single fare cap on bus travel in Devon is for three months only until March 31 2022.