Threatened Tenbury bus service 'essental'

Ludlow Advertiser: Threatened bus service 'essental' Threatened bus service 'essental'

MORE than half the journeys made on a threatened Tenbury bus service are essential - this is according to the findings of a survey undertaken by the town mayor George Price.

He has used the figures in a last ditch bid to try to get Worcestershire County Council to change their minds about removing a subsidy on the 291 service.

The bus that links Tenbury with Kidderminster operates with a public subsidy of more than £3 for each journey and so would not be viable as a commercial service. But if it is lost Coun Price says that the impact will be huge.

The bus links Tenbury and Kidderminster as well as serving the villages of Newnham Bridge, Mamble, Bayton, Rock and the town of Bewdley.

It is in the sights of Worcestershire County Council as they seek to make major savings.

But before a final decision is made the issue has been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that is chaired by Coun Ken Pollock who represents Tenbury on the county council.

“I would suggest that public transport is one of those services where changes will have a major impact on the lives of users,” said Coun Price.

He revealed that his survey involved 120 journeys on the bus and showed that more than half of them are essential.

Nearly four in every 10 (38%) is made by people going to a hospital appointment while nearly one in five (18%) are people going to study at college.

This group includes six young people from Tenbury with learning difficulties that attend a special course in Kidderminster that is not available elsewhere.

The survey by the mayor also shows that nearly one in 10 of the journeys (8%) are made in order to get to and from work.

“Without this bus service those journeys for many will be impossible thereby increasing the risk of rural isolation especially for the elderly and disadvantaged members of our society,” added Coun Price.

“There are no alternative public transport routes for the people of Tenbury to use. For many this bus is a lifeline to essential services.”

He has called upon the county council to show some flexibility and make a special case for the 291 service.

“I feel confident that with some imaginative thinking around scheduling and fare structures the impact of the proposed cuts can be mitigated,” Coun Price said.

The 291 service has 21,000 passenger journeys per year and the subsidy per journey is £3.11 which gives an annual subsidy of about £65,000, according to Coun Price.

Coun Price calculates that to make this service commercially viable would mean the cost of a return journey from Tenbury to Kidderminster would increase from £4.50 to £10.72 making it unaffordable for many people.

Ken Pollock has said that he feels that some compromise solution can be found that takes into account the fact that the authority has some statutory obligations.

He has suggested that it might be possible to reduce the number of buses and so increase the number of people travelling on each service which would reduce the subsidy.

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