After months of worry over the uncertainty of the future of Surrey's bus services, there was some surprising good news recently for residents of Reigate, Woking and Spelthorne following the first phase of a county wide bus review triggered by a decision last year to slash millions from the transport budget.
Initial proposals put forward in late 2009 led to fears that many vital bus routes would be axed to save costs, but many of these services have now been reinstated after pressure from Surrey Liberal Democrats and residents.
There were particular concerns over the withdrawal of services 324 in Reigate, and 514 and 557 in Runnymede and Spelthorne which would have isolated large swathes of the county, but these have been saved, albeit with some modifications to frequency and routing.
Peter Lambell, County Councillor for Reigate Central who has been coordinating the campaign against the cuts with local residents said "Surrey's buses are a vital lifeline for hundreds of residents. Elderly and disabled bus users in particular were very distressed about the prospect of losing links to family, friends and local amenities and I am therefore pleased at the outcome of this phase of the review. Council officers have worked very creatively to provide the best service possible within the available budget and I am grateful that they have listened to the concerns of Liberal Democrats and local residents."
However it is not all good news. Some areas have been left without any bus service at all, and school special services are still under threat despite being given a one year reprieve. There are remaining concerns as to the outcome for the parts of the county covered by phases 2 and 3 of the review where bus users will not know the fate of their services for up to two years.
Peter went on to say "We will continue to scrutinise the next phases thoroughly. Liberal Democrats are committed to ensuring that Surrey residents keep the bus services they rely on. Not all bus routes can be commercially viable but unlike the Conservatives, we do not think this means they should be withdrawn and we will fight for subsidies where needed."