Bus miles in Shropshire cut by half in just eight years

9 May 2024
Helen with bus in Market Drayton

Shropshire has lost more miles of bus routes than any other county in England over the past eight years, data uncovered by MP Helen Morgan has revealed.

The figures from the House of Commons library show that between 2015 and 2023, the number of miles you can travel in Shropshire by bus fell by the largest amount in England, with a 63% decrease in bus miles over the period.

While in Shropshire the figure more than halved, in Great Britain bus miles were down by 19% compared with 2015.

This has contributed to the number of people using the bus in Shropshire has decreased by over 40% over the same eight-year period – pushing more and more people into isolation or onto often congested and crumbling highways across the county.

The problem is not just limited to hamlets where it can be uneconomical to support a large bus service, but towns like Market Drayton and Whitchurch, both of which were listed in the bottom 10% for bus service provision for towns of their size in the country.

This prompted Helen Morgan MP to present her ‘Bus Bill’ to Parliament, which would guarantee public transport links between large towns and key local services like nearby hospitals and schools. A petition in support of the bill received nearly 2,000 signatures from North Shropshire residents.

The MP highlighted the bus figures during a Parliamentary debate over transport in the West Midlands, where several rural MPs spoke on the noticeable decline in services in their areas.

Helen also called for investment to boost public transport links across North Shropshire and pushed the Rail Minister for an update on the reopening of the Oswestry-to-Gobowen line and step-free access at Whitchurch Station

Helen Morgan, Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire, said, “Whether it’s buses or trains, public transport in Shropshire has got significantly worse during the past 10 years of Conservative rule.

“I can’t knock on a door in places like Market Drayton without being told about poor public transport, especially buses. It’s not surprising, as the data shows that the number of miles you can travel in Shropshire by bus has fallen by more than anywhere else in England.

“The lack of public transport harms rural people of all ages and hits both our communities and businesses. For example, over 50% of rural residents are more than one hour from a hospital by public transport while over 50% of rural students are over 30 minutes from further education.

“If you want to get from Drayton to Telford College or hospital, you have to set off hours in advance and cross your fingers that you’ll get there.

“We need to incentivise reliable and appropriate public transport for rural communities. The Liberal Democrats are calling for local authorities to be able to franchise their own bus services, and to simplify the franchise process. This would mean councils could determine bus routes, services, timetables, and standards for their areas.”

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