Sittingbourne-based Chalkwell has announced a reduction of its Kent-London commuter coach services, as operating coaches in London has become a “very difficult environment”, says Commercial Director Roland Eglinton.
Chalkwell, which is celebrating its 85th year of business, currently operates a nine-vehicle service with four coaches each day to the capital from Swale and the Medway Towns, plus a further five from Maidstone and Malling.
From 4 July the service from the Medway towns will remain at four coaches, with the Maidstone and Malling services reducing to three in the morning and four returning in the afternoon.
Mr Eglinton adds: “We are competing with many different modes of transport in London, plus other coach operators. We’ve also seen increased traffic and massive delays associated with the Cycle Superhighway.
“We hoped that once the roadworks had finished and Aldgate reopened we would see an improvement. Despite lobbying Transport for London (TfL) for much needed changes to traffic light phasing, particularly along Upper Thames Street, we have not seen any substantial improvement or interest from them.
“While cyclists have been given priority, there is a lack of interest in commuter coaches from the authorities. The forthcoming closure of Tower Bridge is going to be yet another obstruction.
“All of these factors make it difficult to get people to and from work in a timely fashion, and as such we’ve seen noticeable decline in patronage on some departures.
“The decision to make these changes has not been taken lightly, and we cannot justify running some coaches that are carrying low numbers. These changes are taking place in order to keep the core of the service sustainable in the longer term.”
He adds: “Commuting by coach still has a lot to offer and we look forward to serving the people of Swale, Medway, Maidstone and Malling for many years to come.”