PASSENGERS are being asked what public services should still be subsidised in a cost-cutting exercise.

In a review of bus and community transport services that receive financial support from Hampshire County Council, a consultation is under way to collect the views and preferences of both passengers and the wider community.

County Hall needs to reduce spending by between £1.25m and £1.5m from public and community transport spending.

It is part of the 12 per cent overall savings the council needs to make, as a result of its Government grant being cut by 43 per cent over four years.

The council spends £4.7m on supporting local bus services and ferries across Hampshire that are not commercially viable for private operators to run.

A further £1m is spent on supporting community transport services, and £13.4m on the national concessionary fares scheme.

Councillor Sean Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “The county council has significant budget reductions to make and this requires us to look at all areas of spending, including the limited resources we have to support public and community transport services.

“Areas of public transport the council currently supports include subsidising local bus services which do not attract enough passengers to cover the cost of providing the service and are therefore not commercially viable for the bus companies to run, enhancements to the national concessionary fare scheme for older and disabled residents, and publishing bus timetable information.

“The consultation is open until 31 May and we very much want to hear from as many people as possible to inform this review.”

Anumber of options are being considered to achieve the savings, including reducing or ceasing support for Sunday services and evening services after 7pm, stopping the 9am early start for the older person’s bus pass, reducing the frequency and days of service, replacing bus services with taxishares or community transport services and reducing the amount of printed timetables.