Cuts to bite hard into Pewsey bus services
Updated 9:03am Friday 17th January 2014 in By Anna Mauremootoo, Senior reporter for Marlborough and Pewsey
Buses in the Pewsey Vale are facing cuts as Wiltshire Council attempts to slash running costs by 25 per cent.
On Monday, Ian White, head of service passenger transport at Wiltshire Council, told the Pewsey Area Board there was a programme of reviews into bus services that spans the whole county.
These reviews cover all services that are supported financially by Wiltshire Council, which in the Pewsey Vale only excludes the X5.
He said: “The financial plan is requiring all services to make savings and public transport is, unfortunately, no exception to that.
“We’ve got to the stage now that really the only way we can make savings is by reducing the level of services that is provided.”
Three core services operate in Pewsey on an almost hourly basis, along with an infrequent service to Devizes, a night bus and Taxibuzz.
These services combined are costing the council around £250,000 a year.
Around 65,000 people a year use these buses, 12,000 of which are school children who use the services free of charge with an additional cost to Wiltshire Council of around £80,000. Another 24,000 passengers are OAPs, whose fares are subsidised.
For the council this equates to a cost of £4 per passenger on core services, which is above guidelines, and more than £5 for the night bus and Taxibuzz.
Income generated by fares only covers ten per cent of the running cost, which limits the scope for making savings by trying to encourage more people to use the services.
Mr White said: “Everybody says ‘here you are cutting costs, cutting service – if you publicised the service more, reduced the fares and put on more services, everybody would use the service, generating much more revenue’. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t.
“We are looking very seriously at withdrawing the night bus service and the Taxibuzz service, because they’re used the least and cost the most.
“We need to look at the east of Pewsey service because that is not well used and in terms of the core services in the Pewsey Vale, we need to look at reducing the cost of that.
“We also have the other issue of looking at the service pattern – do we keep the circular route or do we look at a more direct services?”
Once options are decided there will be a public consultation and changes will be implemented in October.
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