Council steps in to save bus services across Shropshire after operators announce cuts

Shropshire Council is stepping in to fund a number of local bus services across the county threatened by cuts.

A number of bus routes will continue with the help of Shropshire Council
A number of bus routes will continue with the help of Shropshire Council

Arriva and other bus operators have announced changes and reductions to some of their current routes.

The council says it has provided funding for eight of the services including the bus route 20 for Radbrook Green in Shrewsbury.

They also include: 558, Worthen; 553, Plox Green; 9, Wolverhampton to Bridgnorth; 21, Reabrook; 64, Market Drayton to Shrewsbury ; 738/740, Ludlow to Knighton; 544/546, Little Lyth and Pulverbatch.

Shropshire Council said the bus companies had been forced to take action and said it would financially support a reduced service from April 23.

"It has been a difficult couple of years for the transport sector and there are many new challenges as the country recovers from the effects of the pandemic, higher fuel rates and driver shortages," a spokesperson said.

"Sadly, many local bus operators nationally are having to take immediate action to ensure their businesses are viable in the future."

The council said service 20 operating from Shrewsbury town centre to Radbrook Green, historically had been commercially operated by Arriva.

"Arriva had decided that this service was no longer commercially viable and was withdrawing this service from April 22."

Some services had been subsidised with funding from Shropshire Council.

"Where the council can step in with the funding it currently has available, it has done so and provided support for these services until early September 2022."

When support runs out for these services in September 2022 it does not necessarily mean that the routes will cease, the council said.

"It simply allows the council a period of time to reflect and identify any alternative solutions to encourage new passengers as it looks to Shropshire’s future in terms of public transport."

While a reduced service it will still provide a significant number of journeys for current users and residents until September 2022.

"This interim subsidy is significant and not affordable for the council past September 2022 and solutions are being sought to combine this with other services in the area to provide a longer-term sustainable solution."

Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for public transport, said: “Whilst finding any additional funding to support bus services within Shropshire is extremely difficult in the current financial climate, we have been able to provide some temporary support for some of the services that Arriva were looking to withdraw from, and we are hopeful that this period will allow for us to understand what funding may be available from Government in the future.

“We know that some services will still be affected, and we anticipate there is likely to be a similar picture played out throughout the country, but we are determined to continue to lobby Government with our bus operators for the funding that we need, to make bus services a realistic option as a first choice of travel across Shropshire.”

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