Bus routes face day of reckoning at meeting

Changes to bus service subsidies are being considered
Changes to bus service subsidies are being considered

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BUS services face a day of reckoning at a meeting next week.

Hampshire County Council will decide which bus services are to continue to receive subsidies, and those which don’t could face an uncertain future.

The Fareham and Gosport service is provided by First, which was awarded a four-year contract in 2010.

Any services which have their subsidies cut, could go out to tender if First decides they are not viable. The subsidised bus service contracts are due to expire on January 4, so are due for re-tendering.

The current cost to the council of the bus service is £505,981 per year – £384,531 from the public transport budget and £121,450 from external funding which has now expired. The proposed cost of the new tenders is £348,106 per year.

Cllr Sean Woodward will announce which services are to continue to receive funding at the Economy, Transport and Environment meeting on Monday.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘First runs around 90 per cent of the services commercially, which are nothing to do with the council. These services are run by First and they are not allowed by law to make a loss.

‘Around 10 per cent of the bus services are subsidised by the county council.’

Cllr Woodward said First is yet to announce which services it intends to keep running, and which ones it may put out for tender.

He said once First has made that announcement, he will be able to look at which services the county council could fund.

A First spokesman said: ‘We look forward to working with the council to develop the best service we can within the local authority’s ever-tightening financial constraints.

‘First will be using this opportunity to update some commercial services to minimise gaps in service; and to take account for increases in costs which bus operators face most notably, a steep increase in the tax paid on bus fuel.’

Services which are recommended to receive subsidy (per year):

Service 20 - £75,135

Service 26 - £71,052

Service 28 - £89,118

Service F1 - £5,970

Service F2 - £8,102 (Services F1 and F2 replace Services 6B and 6C)

The preferred tender options are (per year):

Service 4A peak time journeys on schooldays at £21,300 per year.

Service 6 - hourly off-peak £32,000

Service 11 - two hourly at £45,429

Other factors:

The peak time service to Hill Head and Stubbington is expected to be withdrawn and replaced at a reduced frequency by extra journeys on the 21

The service from Fareham to Gosport via Brockhurst and the A32 has been reduced to every two hours from October