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Saturday, 27 December 2014

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Bus cuts across Cumbria loom in bid to save £1.3m

Seventy bus routes in Cumbria will see a reduced service – and some will go altogether – if the county council goes ahead with plans to end subsidies.

Cumbria County Council photo
Keith Little

The move would save the council £1.3m a year.

But it could cause hardship for many of the 928,000 passengers carried annually on the under-threat services.

Most day-time bus routes in urban areas – and those linking larger towns – are provided without any subsidy by the likes of Stagecoach and Reays. However, many rural routes depend on subsidies as do town services after 6pm and on Sundays.

If support is withdrawn next year, St Bees, Seascale and Millom would lose all their buses, the Egremont and Cockermouth town services would go, as would evening and Sunday services to estates in Workington and Whitehaven.

There would be no evening buses to Cockermouth and no evening or Sunday buses to Cleator Moor and Frizington.

Councillor Keith Little, the council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The Government is taking a big bite of Cumbria County Council’s budget as part of its efforts to balance the nation’s books. The scale of savings the council needs to make means it will have to do some things differently.

“One of these areas would be bus services.

“There is no legal requirement on the council to fund these services.”

He said the council would support other initiatives, such as the Rural Wheels service, to fill the gaps.

Some routes run up big losses – on the X6 Sunday service between Whitehaven and Millom, the subsidy is more than £12 for each passenger carried – although in many cases the subsidy per passenger is only a few pence and two routes break even.

The council is consulting on the proposals and will make a final decision in the New Year.

Stagecoach is urging bus users to respond to the consultation.

It says that, if the council does withdraw subsidies, it will look to see if it can operate any of the affected routes on a commercial basis.

Wigton-based Reays operates commercially several routes that used to be subsidised including Silloth-Workington, and Cockermouth-Maryport.

But managing director Chris Reay said it had no plans to take on any more.

He added: “Our coach business is so busy, we are going to concentrate on that.”

The public can also respond to the consultation online at www.cumbria.gov.uk/ourfuture. The consultation closes on January 20. The council is also planning drop-in sessions in Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport, Egremont, Cockermouth, Keswick and Millom on January 15 and 16.

Reays is pulling out of three routes that it has run commercially. It will no longer run the 34 Cockermouth town service, 35 Cockermouth-Workington via Great Broughton and 36 Cockermouth-Workington via Greysouthen from December 13.

Stagecoach’s service 33 already provides a commercial alternative to the 35 and the county council has stepped in with subsidies to keep the 34 and 36 running with new operators. But it will be a temporary reprieve if subsidies are withdrawn next year.

BUS ROUTES UNDER THREAT

 

6 Whitehaven-Seascale-Muncaster

8 Whitehaven town service (evenings)

22 Lowca-Whitehaven-town estates-Cleator Moor-Frizington (evenings and Sundays)

26 Whitehaven-St Bees-Egremont-Whitehaven

34/101 Cockermouth town services

36 Cockermouth-Workington via Greysouthen

46/47/50 Workington town services (evenings and Sundays)

218 Frizington-Workington

300 Carlisle-Maryport-Workington-Whitehaven (last bus from Carlisle at 11pm)

600 Cockermouth-Carlisle (evenings)

830 Egremont town service

835 St Bees-Egremont

836 Braystones-Egremont

X5 Workington-Cockermouth-Keswick-Penrith (evenings)

X6 Whitehaven-Millom

Have your say

Don't blame Cumbria County Council. The guilty parties are the Con Dem coalition and their supporters who have reduced Council budgets by 38% for this and other vital services. Perhaps Stagecoach could consider paying the subsidy from the £219m profit they made last year?

Posted by Carlisle Commentator on 13 February 2014 at 23:38

if they cut the last service on the 300 i and my colleagues will not be able to get home from a 2 till ten shift at cavaghan & gray im speakn on behalf of 2-10 and 10-6 as some times the agency workers on night get sent home due to m&s dropping orders which mean if it got stopped we would be not be able to get home and there is about 20 to 30 of us live out west cumbria i know they come from as far as whitehaven to work i think the council need to have a rethink about this service as we dont fancy forking out 60-100 pun on taxi fairs as all we would be doing is working to pay taxi fairs i earn upto 290 a week and that wod hardly be worth working to for out for taxis and relying on friends 6 days a week.

Posted by cavvies worker on 29 December 2013 at 03:52

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