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Author Topic: Loss of commercial bus services?  (Read 259 times)
grahame
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« on: March 26, 2020, 04:45:04 pm »

mirror at http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/twsw_help_buses.pdf

Scheduled public bus services outside London fall into two groups - commercial services, where a bus company operates a service for profit, and supported services where a unitary or county council contracts operation of a route or journeys because there's a social or economic need for it, but no bus company believes they can run it commercially for a profit.

Commercial bus companies rely on fare box revenue, and on payments for senior and disabled people travelling on ENCTS cards, as their prime sources of income.  With the current "do not travel unless you have to" rules, commercial buses have seen passenger numbers plummet, and with it their income. Staff bills may largely be supported by the government, but other expenses are not.

Some services, already thin, have been cut back so that they're no longer of any use to the key workers who still need to travel, and incomes have drained away.  Passenger habits, too, have had to change and there is little prospect of a quick return to previous levels.  No only are we loosing commercial services vital to key workers, but we're loosing them in such a way that they won't be easily restored.

Supported services are slightly more robust as the operators are paid to run the buses whether or not there are passengers.   However, contracts vary and on some contracts fare box income is important.   And subsidising council monies are limited, with the prospect of them being stretched further in the future as services which were commercial have been tipped over the line to needing support.

That is the background to this letter from TravelWatch SouthWest to Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon and a member of the Transport Select Committee.

Quote
Simon Jupp, MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Jupp

I have been asked by our members to seek your help with the following:

There is widespread interest amongst communities across the TravelWatch SouthWest region in
any potential plans that the Government may have to step in with specific support for the bus
services operating during this extraordinary time. Despite the Prime Ministerís evident enthusiasm
for buses, bus userís complain that they are treated as a poor relation in public transport.

Essential journeys are impossible for key groups
The exceptional impact of coronavirus on bus usage is causing hardship and rendering many routes
unsustainable. There is a serious threat to the viability of the national network in the short and long
term and a real risk that operators will fold, and their routes never revived.

Short term impact
  Most immediately the people affected are public health workers, the vulnerable, and those in rural
communities. In increasing numbers, these groups find themselves unable to make essential
  journeys. Commercial bus companies cannot afford to carry the entire cost of these services.

Action to be taken
The government need to step in and make money available from the Treasury. The simplest and
most workable way to deal with this is by increasing BSOG dramatically and a correspondingly
substantial increase in devolved BSOG. This capitalizes on the system is already in place and
enables small operators to access help directly.

 A lack of action will undermine the network to an extent that it will be unlikely to recover. There will
be a long-term behavioral impact from this as those who are able return to cars. This is a deeply
  worrying prospect for us all, given the remaining challenge of environmental emissions and climate
change.

I hope you can progress this matter urgently and look forward to hearing from you very soon.

Best wishes
Bryony Chetwode
Company Secretary Ė TravelWatch SouthWest CIC
secretary @ travelwatchsouthwest.org
 
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