Councillors agreed at the Economy and Environment Committee last week (10 August) to provide a short term fix for replacement services following an announcement from Whippet Coaches.
Whippet Coaches operate a range of bus services across Cambridgeshire and these are a mixture of commercial services, operated without any direct funding from Cambridgeshire County Council, and others on contract to the Council.
The Council received notice from Whippet Coaches that they are deregistering a number of bus routes from 3 September 2017. The Council has a duty under the 1985 Transport Act to consider whether replacement services are required, and if so, has the power to provide such services.
A report was taken to the Committee last week to consider recommendations.
Councillor Ian Bates, Chair of the Economy and Environment Committee, said “Since Whippet Coaches told us about the changes to some of their local bus routes, we have been looking at options.
“Last week, at the County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee it was agreed we would provide a short-term fix and fund replacement bus services for the majority of routes for up to one year.
“We will be reviewing current contracted bus services and community transport to see if further efficiencies and alternative services can be made, but I’d urge communities and Parish Councils’ to help us and consider any local solutions, for instance could they run a village car scheme in their area?
“Officers will report back to the committee on this work within nine months to allow a decision to be made on the longer term solution with contracted bus services and community transport.”
Councillor Steve Criswell, Local Member for Somersham and Earith said “I’m disappointed that Whippet has withdrawn so many services with so little notice. However I am pleased that working with colleagues at the County Council we have developed an interim solution for most services. I am particularly pleased to be retaining the 21 service which is relied upon by residents in my division. However we now need to work on finding a more sustainable solution and I will be doing all I can to help”
The Council will shortly provide further details on new operators and timetables in advance of the services changing.