THOUSANDS of people have given their views on bus subsidy withdrawal proposals by Worcestershire County Council.

The authority is planning to cut the £3 million used to fund bus services in the region.

The consultation, which began in early November and ended on Friday, January 17, attracted more than 8,500 responses.

All of the views and comments shared will now be analysed and considered with the information forming a report to cabinet, which is due to discuss the issue at its February 6 meeting at County Hall.

No decisions about the routes affected will be taken on that day.

Any potential changes to the bus subsidy spend would not be implemented until September.

The proposals put forward to remove the taxpayers' money spent on bus subsidies have been put together to help meet the financial challenge the council faces due to reduced levels of Central Government funding. Over the next year a total of £30 million of savings need to be made across the council.

The majority of journeys on bus services in Worcestershire are provided by commercial operators with no involvement from the council.

Currently taxpayers' money is spent to plug gaps in the commercial network – usually the less popular or less well used services. The average spend on such subsidised services is around £1 per passenger journey.

Councillor John Smith OBE, Worcestershire County Council's cabinet member for highways, said: "The response to the consultation has been fantastic and I'd like to thank everyone that's taken the time to share their views regarding subsidised bus services. The information we've received is now being looked at and will be considered before any final is made.

"The financial challenge we face as an authority means a number of tough choices need to be made when it comes to how taxpayers' money is spent. This is one such issue."

Financial savings of around £2.5 million have already been made in public transport over the last few years through efficiency and operational reviews.