YOUNGSTERS, pensioners and people in rural areas are all set to suffer from bus spending cuts.

Transport bosses warned last night that £16m would have to be slashed in the next three years.

Councillors from across West Yorkshire will meet on Friday to decide on the best way to cope with the public spending squeeze.

Proposed cuts being considered by West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (WYITA) include:

Cutting the subsidy to unprofitable bus routes from £18m to £13.5m. The move would affect less popular bus routes in rural areas. South Kirklees and North Kirklees each face cuts of £500,000 a year by 2013/14, as does Calderdale

Slashing the subsidy which allows pensioners to travel on some rail services for just 50p. From January, over-60s would have to pay half-fare instead, reducing the authority’s spending from £1.1m a year to £500,000

Saving £2.1m a year by making bus companies contribute to the cost of allowing under-16s to travel for half the full fare.

Clr Eric Firth, one of three Kirklees representatives on WYITA’s Executive Board, told the Examiner yesterday that the cuts were necessary.

The Dewsbury East Labour man said: “I don’t look forward to this at all. It’s not nice.

“But we’re all subject to massive budget cuts. The levy from councils was reduced last year and will be cut again this year.

“If they are getting less money, we have to look at savings.”

WYITA’s Executive Board will discuss the spending cuts at its monthly meeting at 11am on Friday at Wellington House in Leeds.

Clr Firth said: “These are just options at the moment, no decisions have been made.”

Metro chairman Clr James Lewis blamed the Government for forcing Northerners to bear the “lion’s share” of spending cuts.

The Leeds Labour man said: “We have tried to manage this in a way that will minimise the impact upon local people. But, if my WYITA colleagues approve these cost-saving measures on Friday, West Yorkshire’s bus passengers and over-60s, its bus operators and Metro will all be affected.

“With northern councils, including the West Yorkshire districts, bearing the lion’s share of the Government’s spending cuts, we have no option but to press ahead with finding these spending cuts.”

But Clr Lewis added that the English National Concessionary scheme, which provides free off-peak bus travel to over-60s, would not be affected by the cuts.

WYITA has already saved £1.2m in the last two years by reducing its workforce from 380 full-time equivalent to 348.