Residents fear further isolation as hundreds of bus routes set to disappear

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports on how the loss of hundreds of bus routes will affect local communities.

I've travelled the country meeting people who are going to miss their buses.

Our new research shows hundreds of routes are affected as operators bring services to an end.

Some may be restarted by other companies, or may simply not be used enough anymore- but many will leave a big gap in local communities. They really will be missed.

A resident affected by bus service reductions said that the cuts will make it harder for her to get to school and are causing her stress. Credit: ITV News

The pandemic drove down passenger numbers to such an extent that only government funding allowed services to continue.

That emergency funding was due to end on April 1 - which could have seen 30% of all services disappear.

The Department for Transport has stepped in to extend that support until October. That has given councils and bus companies some breathing space. Even so, some routes are closing - as I saw filming this report.

The extension of support is only temporary and it does not settle the underlying problem of long-term uncertainty about funding.

Bus route closures are meaning many people are losing their only direct link to the city centre. Credit: ITV News

As part of its "Build Back Better" strategy, the government has a public transport plan called "bus back better".

Ministers are promising billions of pounds. As you can imagine, many councils say not enough billions have been allocated.

Money is not the only problem - so is our behaviour. One big question now is how sustained the work from home trend will be and how it will affect passenger numbers. Just think about the big debate there has been about rail - HS2, Crossrail, Northern Powerhouse Rail and much more besides.

Yet comparatively little of our national discussion has centred on buses.

That's despite the fact that 59% of all public transport journeys are by bus - so maybe it is time we had a much wider debate about buses.

Have you been affected by a cut in bus routes? If you would like to share your story, please email yourstory@itv.com