With the designation of part of the county as a Trial Area (within which road service licensing was abolished) in 1981 and the phasing out of network support for bus services from 1984, Norfolk County Council effectively anticipated two of the main provisions of the Transport Act 1985. From January 1984 the council contracted with Eastern Counties Omnibus Company for a reduced network of services, at an annual subsidy of 0.5M compared with 1.3M for the maintenance of the previous network. Where necessary, services withdrawn by Eastern Counties were replaced with services provided under contract by other operators, from April 1984 on the basis of competitive tendering. From April 1985 almost all bus subsidy was allocated in this way. Eastern Counties services were reduced by some 6 per cent in Norwich and 16 per cent elsewhere between December 1983 and April 1985; independent operators provided replacement services amounting to 4 and 12 per cent respectively. The county council saved over half the subsidy which would have been required to maintain Eastern Counties services on the previous basis. These savings were due in part to the non-replacement of non-priority service; in part to the transfer of services from Eastern Counties to other operators with lower costs; and in part to the restructuring of Eastern Counties and the resulting reduction in operating costs. (A)

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