The threat of wholesale service cuts in Worcestershire by Rotala subsidiary Diamond Bus West Midlands has receded after “significant funding” from Worcestershire County Council (WCC) was found to support continued operation.
Certain timetables will change to accommodate lower usage and some fares will increase as part of the rescue package, says Rotala. It previously warned that up to 12 commercial Diamond Bus services in Worcestershire, including some serving schools, were at risk of withdrawal if a solution could not be found.
The extent of potential reductions had led Rotala Chief Executive Simon Dunn to write to politicians, local authorities (LAs) and the Department for Transport and point out the scale of difficulties facing some local bus services in England as Bus Recovery Grant (BRG) Extension funding winds down, with problems particularly acute on low-frequency routes.
Rotala’s agreement with WCC will ensure that current routes will continue to “at least the end of March 2023.” The operator says it is “committed to continuing to work with WCC to maintain and grow services beyond then,” with the LA adding that it is “already focusing on post-March and its aspiration to maintain services.”
Comments Diamond Bus West Midlands Managing Director Bob Baker: “We are hugely grateful for the additional funding that WCC has been able to offer as an emergency measure. We are committed to providing Worcestershire with the robust network it needs to support a growing community, but services need to become viable commercially in the long term. To do that we need a significant growth in passenger numbers.”
The operator says that such growth will only be achieved by “better collaborative working and engagement by all stakeholders.”
Diamond Bus West Midlands previously announced that some other services threatened with cuts have been reprieved thanks to work with Transport for West Midlands and Warwickshire County Council, although a small number will be withdrawn as originally planned.
Meanwhile, municipal operator Reading Buses will increase fares from 5 September with a revenue shortfall created by the pending end of BRG Extension cited as one of the reasons for doing so.