Shropshire Star

Council-run bus service 'bucking the trend' of declining passenger numbers

Council-run bus services in Telford and Wrekin have celebrated their 150,000th passenger.

Council-run bus services in Telford and Wrekin have celebrated their 150,000th passenger

An announcement by Telford & Council on Thursday said that their investment of £1.4m has resulted in bus journeys increasing by almost 30 per cent since December 2022.

Seven services with capped fares at £2 per single journey (£1 child) were introduced to provide more stops in rural areas, better links to the Princes Royal Hospital as well as services for schools and colleges and opening employment opportunities.

Councillor Lee Carter said: “We have laid the groundwork for a responsive and affordable service that can adapt quickly to the needs of users who told us the service was broken and expensive.

“These figures are brilliant and show public support. But we could do so much more if only the Government would give us long-term adequate funding or the power to run services ourselves.”

The most successful service - the Express 100 – links residential areas of Brookside, Sutton Hill, Madeley and Woodside, with the major industrial estates of Stafford Park, Halesfield and Hortonwood, Wellington and the Princess Royal Hospital.

According the the council, usage continues to rise - bucking the national trend for passenger numbers.

Passengers on the 100 reached record numbers in September alone with almost 9,000 journeys and confirmed savings from one passenger of more than £100 per month in taxi fares.

The 101 Madeley to Wellington bus, caters for schools and colleges and carried 13,000 journeys since launching in January 2023 with the standard child fare of £1 per single journey.

Councillor Carter added: “We have developed an affordable service with the funding currently available, but the Government needs to do so much more as our funding is coming under increasing pressure. We provide the best overall fit within a budget and we’ve more developments on the way.

“We have clearly shown that our services can respond to local needs quickly and without the red tape national operators are tied to.”

Funding from the Government for bus service improvements amounts to £650,938 from the £1 billion made available nationally. This is equivalent to 45p for every £1 it costs to run bus services in Telford & Wrekin.

Additional money has been made available via the HS2 project but the council says there has been no detail as to how this can be spent and future funding remains uncertain.

The Bus Services Act 2017 bans local authorities from establishing their own bus companies.

Telford & Wrekin Council say they will continue to lobby the Government for new franchising powers to keep fares down, increase the number of local bus routes and make buses more attractive for everyone to use.