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Gloucestershire Business News

‘Dismay’ at Stagecoach’s decision to cancel an estimated 300,000 bus journeys

Gloucestershire County Council have expressed dismay that Stagecoach have registered intent with the Traffic Commissioner to cancel or change bus services across the county.

After months of massive disruption to bus services, Stagecoach has made the move to prioritise urban and commercial routes leaving rural communities isolated.

The council said this means bus services delivering upwards of an estimated 300,000 journeys a year will be cancelled, preventing people from accessing work, school, hospital appointments and leisure activities.

The county council said it has worked tirelessly to try and ensure this didn't happen by attempting to work in partnership with Stagecoach and is still working hard to find alternative providers for the bus services being cancelled.

Market testing has already been completed and a full procurement will be underway shortly, but the county council is warning that it is a difficult market in which to find replacement operators.

Gloucestershire County Council provides Stagecoach and other bus providers with £10 million a year of funding for subsidised routes and reimbursement for use of the concessionary fares bus pass. 

Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic Gloucestershire bus providers were bailed out by a government package to the tune of £1.4 million.

Cllr Philip Robinson, cabinet member for Education, Skills and Bus Transport, said: "I am hugely disappointed that Stagecoach have placed commercial interests over the needs of many of their customers in rural communities. We have attempted to work with the company for a long time to try and ensure that this did not happen, but the day we feared has sadly come.

"Reinstating the cancelled routes with new providers is a priority for us but this is a very challenging and difficult market and while we will make every effort to find alternatives this will be a far from easy path.

"We have also taken the very serious decision to report Stagecoach to the Traffic Commissioner. We will provide regular updates to residents on our progress."

Rachel Geliamassi, managing director, Stagecoach West said: "We are very disappointed that Gloucestershire County Council has effectively tried to wash its hands of its share of responsibility for delivering public transport to local communities in the region.

"We have tried to engage with the local authority for months to work in partnership to make the best of a very difficult set of challenges largely outside our control. We have been open and honest with council officers and elected representatives about the scale of the problem and have given them as much notice as possible to allow them to consider solutions.

"The local authority could have put new replacement council bus contracts out to tender from mid-August, but it has dragged its feet and has still not taken steps to formally procure these services for the benefit of local people.

"We have provided regular updates to the Traffic Commissioner on the delivery of services in the region and the extensive steps we have been taking to recruit new drivers to tackle the skills shortage affecting the UK economy.

"Our local communities are extremely important to us, and we know how critical bus services are to people in our region. That will always be at the heart of our decisions.

"After weeks of pressing the council for a face-to-face meeting, we are due to meet Cllr Philip Robinson and Colin Chick, executive director of economy, environment and infrastructure, at the end of next week. We hope that provides an opportunity to reset relationships so we can collectively focus our energy and resources on identifying the best way forward for local people."

While the council stresses that this is not a consultation process, if you wish to provide your feedback on the changes please go to https://haveyoursaygloucestershire.uk.engagementhq.com/stagecoach-service-changes/survey_tools/stagecoach-service-changes-survey.

You can also call 01452 583638 where you to leave a recorded message if you don't have access to the internet.

Stagecoach served notice to make the following route changes:

Service to change from November 20

24: Gloucester - Coleford - Chepstow

Coleford to Chepstow withdrawn

24: Gloucester - Cinderford - Coleford

New registration of a Gloucester-Cinderford-Coleford service

25: Mitcheldean - Cinderford - Coleford

Withdrawn, some sections of the route replaced by the new 24 service

27: Cinderford - Park End - Lydney

Subsidised 27 withdrawn, commercial 827 retained

710: Cinderford town service

Withdrawn

748: Westbury - Blaisdon

Withdrawn

755: Lydney town service

Withdrawn

761: Beachley - Sedbury - Chepstow

Withdrawn

November 27

A: Cheltenham (Prestbury-Benhall)

Change - reduced frequency from earlier in the evening

B: Charlton Kings - Cheltenham

Change

C: Springbank - Cheltenham

Change

D/E: Bishops Cleeve - Cheltenham

D improved, E withdrawn

F: Leckhampton - Cheltenham - Hesters Way

Commercial Monday-Friday changes, weekend subsidised service retained until February 19

H: Kingsditch - Cheltenham

Minor changes

58: Cirencester Town Service

Withdrawn

93: Arle Court Park and Ride Service

Withdrawn

94: Cheltenham-Gloucester

Removed from Arle Court

February 19

K: Benhall - Up Hatherley - Cheltenham

Withdrawn

F: Leckhampton - Cheltenham - Hesters

Weekend subsidised service withdrawn

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