Bus company’s battle for support as services axed

A Brylaine bus
A Brylaine bus
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Bus company Brylaine has appealed to Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) to better support rural bus services after ‘substantially reducing’ the K59 Boston to Spalding service.

Its appeal was made after the company approached the county council for extra financial support for the ‘unviable’ K59 and Spalding Town services in October, but was told both would have to be put out to tender for this to be considered.

According to Brylaine, the tender issued was prepared to support a K59 with reduced midday service and just one bus a week on the town route.

Previously, the county council fincially supported the daily 8am and Saturday Spalding Town services and the K59 Saturday service and travel along one Boston road daily.

Brylaine operations director Malcolm Wheatley approached the Bus Industry Regulator in November, asking for the routes to be reinstated, still with some K59 midday cuts, but not as severe as those outlined in the tender.

Permission for this was granted just before Christmas and the service was duly adjusted from December 23, with little notice for passengers.

A Brylaine spokeswoman said: “The service times proposed by LCC for the K59 would have meant some passengers had no options of a reasonably-timed return journey and with just one bus on Spalding Town, the service would prove less than useful to any residents.

“Our current expectation in 2018 is that we will receive less than one per cent of our total turnover from LCC to fund rural services in South Holland.

“Sadly, trying to make a better bus service is impossible on our own. It’s a Catch 22 - the costs needed to run rural bus services are exceptionally high.

“Simple maths shows the less services we can offer means less customer reliance; the lesspassenger loyalty, the less there is to offer and with little financial support, there is more to lose.”

A Lincolnshire County Council spokesperson said: “In October, Brylaine informed us they were withdrawing the K59 and Spalding Into Town services on Saturdays and during school holidays.

“We looked in to how it would be possible to fill the gaps left, but we simply did not have the money to reinstate them on a like-for-like basis.

“Obviously, we cannot simply hand over taxpayers’ cash to private companies, so a contract was put out to tender.

“Halfway through that process, Brylaine announced they were reinstating the Spalding Into Town and G61 services, along with a revised K59 service on Monday to Friday.

“This left only the Saturday route on the K59 without a service, and the contract for this was awarded to Brylaine.

“Although there has been a reduction in the level of service it should meet the needs of most passengers.

“In addition, CallConnect is being used to fill in the gaps left by the commercial operation, and can provide some of the journeys previously offered by Brylaine.”