Authorities were forced to pay up to 10 times previous rates to attract companies and the higher bids from bus companies could soak up much of the additional£40m a year for improving rural bus services, says Derek Bateman, chairman of the Local Government Association's integrated transport policy task group.
He told the parliamentary select committee reductions in drivers' wages and other cost-cutting measures imposed after privatisation mean many operators were unable to find drivers.
The paper reports Cheshire CC was faced with cancelling a service to a school in Macclesfield last week after the operator withdrew because of driver shortages.
The Guardian reports (p25) that Thanet DC will protest over Stagecoach's decision to raise all child bus fares to full adult rates at peak times.
Thanet's deputy leader Patrick Sebastian said it was 'not right' for a public transport provider to price children off buses, rather than provide more buses to meet demand.
Children were often waiting after school for 45 minutes because buses were either too full to pick them up or did not show up.
Stagecoach said the concessionary fare was withdrawn bcause it was uneconomic. The situation in Thanet was a local issue and did not apply to other parts of the country, it said.