Fears of people being 'isolated' when Shropshire bus service ends
People will be left "isolated" and "cut off" when a rural bus service stops running in the new year, it is feared.
Passengers who rely on the 292 between Ludlow and Kidderminster will be left stranded when R&B Travel scraps the service from January 6.
It comes after the company faced a Traffic Commissioner's public inquiry which was considering disciplinary action against its directors, Alan and Lorraine Radnor.
Worcestershire County Council manages the service with support from Shropshire Council, and it is hoped a new operator will be contracted to take it on before the bus ceases to operate.
The bus serves rural communities along its route, including Clee and Cleobury Mortimer, with six services a day in each direction.
Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North and a regular user of the threatened service, said: “I get messages every day from people worried that buses will not run between Ludlow and Kidderminster after Christmas.
"This is a very popular route for people who need to shop and travel onwards.
“Without the 292, many communities in South Shropshire will be cut off from public transport.
"That means that people end up isolated in their homes.
“We have been talking to Shropshire Council’s transport staff. They assure us that a new contract for a regular service between Ludlow and Kidderminster is being negotiated."
He said any new service should allow more time to complete the journey to improve the chances of it running to schedule.
“Any new service must run on a timetable that works," said Councillor Boddington.
"At present, the bus drivers are only given 58 minutes to drive the route. They need to put their foot down to achieve that."
Councillor Richard Huffer, who represents Clee, said: “R&B is a long established Clee travel business that has given many people employment.
"But it seems to be getting almost impossible to run a viable bus service from a rural location like Clee.
“The 292 service is essential for Shropshire communities in Clee, Hopton and Cleobury Mortimer.
"We can’t have people isolated and unable to get to school, the shops or the doctors.
“It will be a great Christmas present for our rural area if we knew that a replacement service has been contracted.”
R&B is has also surrendered the 291 service between Kidderminster and Tenbury Wells, but a new operator has already been found to take it over.
A spokeswoman said: "We are currently liaising with Shropshire Council regarding the future funding of the 292 service."
Is is the second time in as many years that the future of the service has been thrown into doubt. Diamond Bus operated the 2L service under a tender contract to Worcestershire County Council. Diamond ceased to operate the 2L service in April 2018 when Worcestershire County Council withdrew subsidising the service. The council then awarded a tender for the 292 service to R&B Travel.