Bus cuts: the facts

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I feel I must enlighten some readers on my understanding of the basis on which bus services are provided. Taking the route 60 as a prime example (and one which I use several times a week), the daytime service is provided by Stagecoach as a commercial service without any financial inducement from or to West Sussex County Council – apart from the pass through grant for concessionary fares from central government.

This was set down in the 1985 Transport Act which covered bus deregulation.

The provision, routes, frequency and fares for this commercial service are entirely under Stagecoach’s control and management. Their only duty to local authorities is to provide prior warning of any changes.

The situation for evening and Sunday services is totally separate and distinct. These services are deemed unprofitable by Stagecoach and are provided under a tendered contract from West Sussex County Council to Stagecoach.

The funding for this and similar unprofitable contracts is that which WSCC wish to withdraw. These are the only services over which WSCC has any control.

Talk of reducing the timetable or charging a nominal fee on daytime services to pay for evening and Sunday services is therefore not possible – they are two entirely different things.

Were Stagecoach (and I sincerely hope they don’t) to reduce the timetable, then any cost saving would go straight to Stagecoach’s profit, not to subsidising any evening or Sunday service – and WSCC rightly would have no say.

I find that contrary to one of the correspondents, the route 60 service is well used – and that usage is increasing.

This really picked up within six months or so of the frequency being increased, to the extent a 30-minute service would now have at some times of the day (not just schoolchildren runs) OAPs standing on a full bus on a very winding route.

Double deckers are of little use as a large number of travellers are unable to climb the stairs.

Finally, I too have noticed Stagecoach have been running two buses in tandem on occasion over the past couple of weeks. This, I hope, is because of roadworks or a similar issue, and not through some Machiavellian plot to soften people up for a timetable change.

I feel it is imperative people make representations to WSCC on the correct grounds if the ‘social needs’ services are to be continued.

Iain Balch

Mallard Crescent,