The plans will remove 38 KCC subsidised services over the next three months despite outcry by residents, councillors and local passengers.
The cuts are part of a plan to accommodate the council’s budget for highways and transport shrinking by £2.2million for the period of April 2022 to April 2023.
Opponents to the plan at County Hall have raised strong objections amid fears of worsening social isolation for people in rural areas, higher costs for families and further harm to the environment, with more car journeys and CO2 emissions.
But KCC Leader, Roger Gough, said: “We know the impact of removing the KCC subsidy from some of our Supported Bus services will have on those who currently use it.
“We have put measures in place to make sure the most vulnerable are protected from the impact of these withdrawals, by removing the Kent Karrier services from the list of routes due to have their subsidy removed.
“After these subsidies are removed, we will still be investing £4.5million in Supported Bus services as a council.
“We will ensure children and young people who are entitled to free travel to and from school have transport in place for the start of the school term in September.”
A number of bus routes that were earmarked to be scrapped have recently been saved.
As previously reported in the Times, the 285 is to continue serving Hawkenbury after MP Greg Clark brokered a deal with local businesses whose employees use the service, KCC and the bus operators.
He told the Times: “It is of great importance that children can get to school safely and reliably using public transport. I met with the Leader and Deputy Leader of Kent County Council to discuss what can be done when commercial bus companies – that have not previously received any public subsidy – find that their service is no longer viable.
“My experience on several routes – including the 285 – is that officers of the County Council are willing to work in a pragmatic way to find solutions, and I will do this for all my constituents.”
The 230 route that serves rural Penshurst, has also just been saved following an agreement with KCC and provider Autocar, following intervention from local councillor Matthew Sankey (Alliance, Speldhurst & Bidborough).
He said: “I’m delighted that KCC & Autocar have come to an agreement to save the 230 route for at least the next academic year.”
But he added: “However, we must not become complacent, we have reached a funding cliff edge for an essential public service that will create transport deserts across our county if we do not resolve the fundamental issues.”