Arriva accused of 'focusing on profitable routes' amid rural bus criticism

The leader of Shropshire Council has criticised bus operator Arriva for "concentrating solely on profitable bus routes".

Councillor Lezley Picton voiced her frustration as a guest at Oswestry Town Council on Wednesday.

She was replying to a question from Councillor Mike Isherwood who said residents without cars in Shropshire felt undervalued and asked what Shropshire Council was doing to address the lack of rural bus transport.

"Public transport is vital for decarbonisation and for giving rural people public transport links," he said.

Recently Arriva announced it was closing its bus depot in Oswestry.

Councillor Isherwood said he understood from Arriva that Shropshire Council paid 40 per cent of fares prices for those with bus passes while other authorities paid up to 60 per cent.

This meant more routes were becoming unviable, he said.

Councillor Picton said she was not aware that Shropshire was paying less subsidy.

"If it was right, I don't think it would make a huge amount of difference," she said.

"It seems Arriva is only interested in commercial routes and they are not as profitable as they used to be."

For instance, she said, one of the most profitable routes were Shrewsbury town centre to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

"Some of our other operators would use some of those profits to subsidise other routes," she said.

"But Arriva seems entirely focused on only providing the commercially profitable routes."

Councillor Isherwood said Oswestry Town Council really wanted to work with Shropshire Council to improve bus services and also Oswestry Bus Service.

Arriva has been contacted for a comment regarding issues raised during the meeting.

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