£130k spent on Farnborough and Fleet bus serviceBy Tim Harris
March 13, 2013
MORE than £130,000 will subsidise two bus services after Hampshire County Council agreed to release funding for the number 41 and 71 buses in Farnborough and Fleet.
A contract for subsidised journeys on the 41 service to Ash will be awarded for two years and seven months. This will fall in line with renewal dates for other four-year bus subsidy contracts in the area, due to be reviewed in October 2015.
The county council confirmed the contract for the 41 was originally awarded to RJB (UK) in April 2011, but the authority was required to step in after the operator ceased trading in January this year.
The new operator for this service is Stagecoach/FleetBuzz. Surrey County Council will also contribute £25,000 towards the cost of the 41 service.
A short-term contract had to be brought in to keep the 71 service in operation following a decision by FleetBuzz to withdraw it.
This contract will run for six months from April 15, until options for a replacement service for the 71 can be assessed and a consultation has taken place. It will serve the Calthorpe Park and Pondtail areas.
Councillor Mel Kendal, deputy leader and executive member for environment and transport for Hampshire County Council, said: “We aim to ensure that transport services continue to support access for work, education, retail and health services for the widest section of the community, while achieving value for money.
“We have sought to maintain the existing network of services where possible.
"We have had to consider bus subsidies against a background of reduced funding from the government as well as a reduction in the rural bus subsidy grant.
"Our aim is to ensure that, as far as possible, communities are not left dependent on the private car and we work closely with bus operators and local people to find a way to achieve this within budget.”
Elsewhere in Hart, a grant of £6,500 for Yelabus, a local community transport provider based in Yateley, has been agreed by the council. Funding towards the cost of operating Yelabus will be covered until March 31 next year.
“The county council recognises the importance of community transport,” added Cllr Kendal.
“Yelabus provides a valuable service by providing minibuses with drivers, for hire, to many voluntary and activity groups in Yateley and the surrounding rural communities.
“The organisation is making good progress in working towards becoming more self-sufficient in the future and this is to be commended.”
Cllr Kendal explained funding for Yelabus would be reviewed again in 2014. He said for the time being, the council’s community transport team would work with Yelabus to recruit more drivers through the Volunteer Driver Recruitment campaign.