BUS routes across the county have been axed as the county council announces savings of more than £500,000.

Cuts include services in Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, the New Forest, and Winchester, with certain journey times being stopped and some days being scrapped entirely.

But civic chiefs say the cuts are needed to keep the overall service going, due to added pressure from reduced central government grants.

They add that the decision to make the cuts have come after an “extensive county-wide consultation” which was held earlier this year. Around 140 organisations and 4,400 residents responded.

Council Rob Humby, transport chief at the county council, said the move was to make sure the authority could “continue to support public transport with less resource [at its disposal]”.

He added: “We’re committed to making bus travel in Hampshire more appealing.

“I understand how important public transport is to residents who have told us about their most important journeys and priorities. "My aim is to make sure that every community in Hampshire which currently has a public transport link, retains that link, even if it means that some of the services would run less frequently.”

Some of the worst hit routes are in the Winchester area, with more than £80,000-worth of cuts approved.

The 6A and 63 services, which run from Abbotts Barton and Owslebury to Winchester, will be cut from three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) to two days a week (Monday and Thursday(CORR)). This change will save the council £3,177 a year, with a reduced yearly operating cost of £16,195.

The C41 service, which runs between Alresford and Basingstoke, has also been reduced from three days to two, although it is not yet known which days will be cut. This, documents say, will result in £12,000 a year of savings.

Another route to be severely throttled is the E1/E2 service between Eastleigh and Winchester, which civic chiefs predict will save the council £39,083, reducing running costs by half to £31,384 per year.

But this means locals will have far fewer buses to catch, with the 7.27am Twyford to Eastleigh route, and 1.40pm, 4.25pm, and 6.20pm Winchester to Eastleigh services all being scrapped. The first and last trips in and out of Winchester on a Saturday have also been dropped from the route, along with the the 1.40pm, and 3.40pm Winchester to Eastleigh, and 2.35pm, and 4.35pm routes in the opposite direction on the same day.

Winchester city councillor Rose Burns, member for St Bartholomew, said the move was “not right”.

“I understand that our bus services need to be commercial, and it’s a very problematic area with busses operating at a loss,” she added.

“Having said that, where you get a rural or suburban area where there are a lot of elderly people who don’t drive. If the bus service is cut to such an extent that it makes it impossible, it’s not right. To cut down on buses seems incredibly short-shorted.”

City councillor for the Worthys Malcolm Prince added: “We have got to have a real commitment to buses and we have got to make them work with regularity.

“We must seek to think of place that are further afield and about them being served. Alresford needs its buses.”

In the North of the county, the number 14 Basingstoke to Tadley route will be reduced to a single bus every two hours. This will reduce the cost of the service from £132,737 to £66,230, saving £66,507.

Andover’s C1, C3, C4, C5, C5A, C6, and C8 routes will be amended with the “timetable to be reviewed to reflect usage” the authority says. £35,048 will be saved from the yet unknown alterations.

In the New Forest, the H1/H2 and T3/T4 routes will be “re-timed” and will no longer operate within the peak time rush-hour periods. The T3/T4 Saturday service will also be withdrawn. This will save a combined £27,500.

As well as this, the number 6 bus, from Lymington to Southampton, will see fewer buses in the morning “peak times”. Savings of £26,945 have been predicted.

The Saturday service of the 112, which runs from Hythe and Beaulieu to Lymington, will be scrapped, saving £6,500.

As previously reported, civic chief did, however, save the under-threat number 46 bus, which runs between Winchester and North Baddesley. It is used by more than 15,000 residents a year.

Cllr Humby said: “With the growing pressures across public sector services, we have had to look at many services we provide to make sure that the limited resources we have are directed to where they are most needed.

“The budget used to support public transport has recently been reviewed using travel data as well as the results of a county wide consultation with the public.

“In the specific case of the number 46 (between Winchester and North Baddesley), given that it provides 15,358 passenger journeys a year, I am satisfied this service is well used by the community and it is appropriate that the county council makes a contribution to ensure that this service continues to run.”