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'Unviable' Falmouth lifeline bus services axed
6:00am Thursday 27th February 2014 in Cornwall
TWO bus services introduced when passengers were left abandoned after the First Group slashed timetables and routes, are themselves being shelved because the use of the concessionary fares have made them unviable.
Fal River Buses brought in the 329 service in Falmouth, linking the town centre to the seafront, and the 330 service which takes residents of Flushing and Mylor into Truro, to fill the gap left by last autumn’s cuts.
Both, though, will run for the last time on Friday, but there are hopes the timetable and route of the existing Falmouth Shuttle Bus can be adapted to fill at least part of the gap which will be left in Falmouth.
Explaining the situation to his customers, Tim Light, the man behind Fal River Buses, said: “I am very sorry to tell you that we are no longer able to offer this registered commercial bus service.
“The reason for this, despite the fantastic support from many of you, our MP Sarah Newton, Falmouth Town Council and potential support from Truro City Council, is that it is not possible for us to pay for the cost of operating from the grant we receive from the national bus concession scheme.
“Regrettably one of the unintended consequences of the free travel for the over 60’s is that certain services like ours, that carry predominantly holders of the travel pass, it is incredibly hard to cover the direct costs of the service let alone the overhead costs which are depressingly large. We will be working with local taxi providers and Cornwall Council to try to provide private hire options for the routes we served.”
He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our passengers for their support, suggestions and positive feedback since we started this bus service and again regret that we have not been able to make this work for you and the town and city centres you support with your patronage.
“I hope you understand that it is not possible for a private company to run at such a large loss and without the ability to set a price that would deliver sustainability.”
Falmouth Town Council had agreed to jointly underwrite any losses of the 329 up to £6,000 and asked pensioners who can afford to ditch their bus passes to do so a couple of times a week, but even this could not save the service.
Councillor Candy Atherton, chair of its finance committee, said: “We are looking to change the route of the shuttle bus, but we are not able to do that overnight so ask people to bear with us.”
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