Bus passengers left high and dry
5:30am Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
THE full impact of proposed changes to the bus network were revealed yesterday with the revelation that up to 25 members of staff at the Blunsdon House Hotel would be forced to quit their job if they go ahead.
Thamesdown Transport has said that from May 24 they will no longer be able to run the 24 service to the North Swindon village as it is not commercially viable.
It is understood talks are taking place between the council and a number of bus companies for a possible answer but this has done little to ease the concerns of worried workers.
Val Dunbar, the payroll manager at the hotel, said: “In total there are 25 staff who will lose jobs if the bus is cancelled.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that Blunsdon could effectively be cut off by these changes.
“We understand there needs to be money saved but there also needs to be compromise. We have just been told the service will stop and that has left us in the lurch.
“Simply put, good members of staff will be forced to leave their jobs if there is no bus service. On top of that they will most likely be unable to claim benefits as they will have voluntarily left their job.”
Last week it emerged around a dozen employees at the Park View Care home may have to leave as they will have no way of getting to work. As well as the difficulty the cancellation will cause workers, concerns have been raised about how children will be able to get to school.
Ruth Fitchett, Chef De Partie, said: “When the number 12 service, which went to the Orbital, was replaced by the 24 we were told it was to make money available.
“The current service goes directly to town, which is not what people want, and means some people have to leave home more than two hours before the start of their shift. I think it was designed to fail so they can now cancel it to save money.”
Talks are being held to try and find a solution but as it stands Blunsdon looks set to lose all access to a bus service. Although Thamesdown Transport is owned by the council, it is run as an arms-length company so they do not have a direct say in how it is run.
Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), the cabinet member for transport, said: “We are currently in negotiations with Thamesdown Transport to see if there is a way we can find a way of supporting a service to Blunsdon as we obviously do not want the village to be without a bus.
“We are also talking to a number of other operators to see if there is something we can do. As it stands I do think that come the end of May, there will be a service of some sort in Blunsdon.”
Paul Jenkins, managing director of Thamesdown Transport, said: “Unfortunately, after May 24 we will not be able to continue running Service 24 as a commercial service due to passenger revenue not meeting operational costs.
“We are, however, liaising with Swindon Borough Council regarding the future of this service and hope that a satisfactory solution can be found.”
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