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Author Topic: How can a bus support contract price go up 200%?  (Read 268 times)
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« on: January 22, 2023, 10:36:33 pm »

From Sarah Warren, B&NES Deputy Leader & Cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Travel

The system for bus provision is broken, both nationally and locally, following many years of funding cuts and deregulation. It needs an overhaul. And the crisis in the bus industry is unfortunately symptomatic of the state of our wider public sector – we are currently seeing government-induced crisis from the NHS to education due to a combination of prolonged underfunding and privatisation.

Bath & North East Somerset tenders a number of “supported” bus services through the West of England Combined Authority (WECA» (West of England Combined Authority - about)). Last year we faced a “cliff edge” with the prospect of the loss of supported services in Bath & North East Somerset. Following a great deal of work over the last year, an agreement was reached with WECA and the West of England Mayor at a meeting earlier this week, which was broadcast on WECA’s Youtube channel.

It means the council has protected 12 supported bus services in Bath. In addition, some supported services outside of Bath will receive a cash injection from the council. This will ease the transition to Demand Responsive Transport, which is being introduced “Big Bang” across North East Somerset by the West of England Mayor from April. More information on the proposed Demand Responsive Transport scheme ‒ badged as West Link ‒ can be found here.

Tenders for all supported bus routes we previously contracted came in at £3m, more than a 200% increase on our available budget, at a time when council income is falling in real terms. We are actively lobbying the West of England Mayor to fund all the five bus routes for North East Somerset, for which he has tendered through a different route (the multi-million pound Bus Service Improvement Fund) and for which the sole decision-making responsibility lies with him. If funded, these routes will ensure bus provision for Chew Valley, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Timsbury. (The Mayor sadly chose not to tender for any bus service improvements for Bath.)

How can that be?

Let's say that a bus cost on its current service £200,000 a year to run when the time the support contract was last placed.  And the income was £160,000 at the pre-Covid time  - so a cost of £40,000 to BaNES

The service will now costs £250,000 a years to - perhaps that figure includes an element for a wider profit to make up for a much more doubtful future, higher vehicle costs for the CAZ (Clean Air Zone), higher fuel and driver costs, etc.  At the same time, the ridership has dropped to the income down to £130,000.

So - a £40k shortfall becomes a £120k shortfall ... there's your shortage to be funded from April - or your service dropped.  Oops!

« Last Edit: January 22, 2023, 10:57:15 pm by grahame » Logged

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