Proposals by Nottingham City Council (NCC) to impose swingeing cuts to the supported Linkbus network in the city have been criticised by bus operator CT4N.
Five routes will be withdrawn under the plans. NCC believes that remaining Linkbus services and other commercial routes will provide sufficient coverage. However, CT4N claims such an approach will mean that the council will “in theory double the cost of concessions payments in some situations” because of additional passenger changes.
NCC says that the proposed reduction to the Linkbus network has come about because of “very serious budget challenges” and that it is having to make some “difficult decisions on the services that we provide.”
The proposed cuts affect five Locallink-branded bus services in Nottingham. If they go ahead, four Locallink routes will remain, along with Medilink and a Worklink service. All three brands form part of NCC’s Linkbus network.
27 battery-electric buses are allocated to the Locallink network. NCC says that a future use for those that would no longer be required will be undertaken “at a future date” if the proposed cuts come to pass.
CT4N says that alternatives to service withdrawals should be explored. It has invited NCC to engage over proposals that it has created that would allow expenditure to be reduced without the loss of the five services. NCC’s latest planned cuts to Linkbus services follow earlier reductions to the network.
In particular, CT4N has suggested to NCC that it should replace fast chargers that were damaged by flooding at the Queen’s Drive park-and-ride site in February 2020.
While Queen’s Drive is not a suitable location for the replacement units, CT4N Managing Director Ian Combellack says that by increasing the overall fast-charging network, the number of buses required to operate the Locallink contract would decline. That would reduce both maintenance and insurance costs and “in theory” allow the displaced buses to be used elsewhere.
CT4N has also proposed a reduction in frequency for the affected services to every two hours. It has additionally approached Nottinghamshire County Council, asking if it would be willing to fill some gaps in the Linkbus network on a temporary basis if services are withdrawn until an understanding of post-pandemic demand can be gained.