Hosepipe bans, pleas to conserve water, and snow gritters spreading sand to stop roads from melting are minor inconveniences.

They're all a small price to pay for actually having a summer that lasts more than a week.

This year the green plastic sheets have hardly been out at Wimbledon to shield the outer courts from rain. People who walk to work or the shops have felt perfectly safe leaving their umbrellas at home.

It would have been a crime not to get out and enjoy it. So this weekend I abandoned household chores - apart from putting washing on the clothes line - to head into Carlisle city centre.

I'd wander around in the sunshine and allow myself an ice cream, or a cool beer, or probably both.

I wasn't far out of the front door when I decided I couldn't face the half hour's walk in the overbearing heat, so took a bus instead, defying Margaret Thatcher's declaration that anyone of my age who travels by bus is a failure.

It occurred to me that I was lucky I could.

I used to get the bus to and from school in Belfast. If I missed one there'd be another along within minutes.

But since living on this side of the Irish Sea the unreliability and infrequency of buses has always unpleasantly surprised me.

Cumbria seems to be different in this. The service here, at least in my experience, is reasonably good. I'd prefer it if there were more of them in the evenings and on Sundays. But at least they turn up, normally on time.

Everywhere else I've lived since leaving home, buses have been invariably late and often overcrowded - and sometimes just don't turn up at all.

This is because they began to be deregulated in 1986. Councils had to transfer control of their bus systems to separate companies.

Only two parts of the UK - London and Northern Ireland - were exempt from this. And they have the UK's best bus services.

A private bus company can pretty much operate as it likes, cutting services or increasing fares at will.

They'll only keep them going with public money. Yet community transport in Cumbria has lost £2 million in the last 10 years.

It's a situation reflected across the country. According to pressure group the Campaign for Better Transport, there has been a £182 million cut – 45 per cent of the total – in council support for supported bus services since austerity bit. That has meant alterations, reductions and cancellations.

In the last year alone, 77 bus routes have been reduced or cancelled in the north-west of England. And bus fares have risen three times faster than wages.

Yet buses are still the most frequently used form of public transport, because they're often the only option. There are around 4.65 billion bus journeys per year, two and half times more than train journeys – though if train fares weren't such a rip-off they might be used more often.

And it is the least-well off who are affected most. Those earning less than £25,000 a year make up two-thirds of all those journeys.

If you've long owned a car, it may be years since you've used a bus. So it can be difficult to understand how poor bus services can damage your quality of life.

Young and old rely on them to get to schools, colleges, workplaces, shops and appointments or meet friends.

Good buses bring many knock-on benefits to employment, education and the wider economy. The Campaign For Better Transport calculate that every £1 of public money spent on buses brings £3 to £5 worth of wider benefits.

There's also the overwhelming environmental case for buses. Cars produce nearly 60 per cent of all the carbons emissions from road transport in the UK.

Buses produce only five per cent. If they went electric that would be even lower.

Most people, apart from a few Flat Earth Society types, believe that climate change is real and we're running out of time to tackle it.

A vital component in that is getting people out of their cars and onto public transport. That won't happen if it isn't available or works out more expensive than driving.

So public funding for them is crucial. But they should never have been deregulated in the first place.