Stagecoach pulls two bus routes

TWO routes in Andover will no longer be served by buses following a decision by Stagecoach to withdraw from the services.

The company decided to pull out of the two routes because of poor passenger levels shortly before tenders were issued for new four-year bus subsidy contracts in the Andover area.

A report considered this week by Cllr Mel Kendal, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for environment, reveals that in order to avoid loss of service some routes have been amalgamated and town and country routes combined to ‘maintain service to as many areas as possible’. The report continues: “As a result there will be some reduction in frequency of local journeys within Andover and two sections of route will no longer be served – Icknield Way and Vigo Road/Eastfield Road.

“Most users have alternatives within 400 metres. To avoid users being left without transport, the budget includes £5,000 to meet the cost of a taxi-share facility.” Taxi-share schemes run to a timetable just like a bus but passengers book a seat to travel.

Fares are similar to bus fares and over 60s can use their free bus pass if they have one.

At his decision day on Tuesday Mr Kendal agreed tenders totalling £754,796 a year for the next four years.

Mr Kendal heard that to retain the existing pattern unchanged would cost £807,000 a year – an increase of 6.2 per cent, which would result in a number of services failing to meet ‘value for money criteria’.

Cllr Raymond Ellis, executive member for rural affairs and human resources, said: “It is good to see that the county council has obviously considered the needs of the local community carefully and worked to meet the needs of that community despite the budgetary pressures being faced.

“I am sure the executive member for environment will recognise this and is aware of how vital public transport is to residents in both rural and urban areas to enable them to get to work, and to enjoy leisure pursuits.”

Bus operators receiving a share of the subsidy are Stagecoach, Clegg & Brooking and Pikes.

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