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Local companies to step in as First bus axes routes

FIRSTGroup are expected to withdraw their cross-town 30  service and the 234 to Chippenham next month, but the routes will be taken on by Frome Minibuses and Faresaver.

Frome Minibuses and Faresaver have spoken up to reassure bus users following the announcement that First would be deregistering their 234 and 30 routes.

Route 30, which transports passengers around the town via Feltham Drive, the Market Place, and Rodden Road, will be run by Frome Minibuses, who already operate the service on a Saturday.

Company director Andrew Young said, “From the 3rd August Frome Minibuses will be running the 30 timetable exactly as it is now, with the exception of the final service of the day at 17.26.”

The 234 route from Market Place to Chippenham via Beckington, Trowbridge, and Melksham, will be partially upheld by Faresaver’s x34 service which currently runs alongside it.

The x34 currently runs its last service from Frome at 17.30 and does not operate at weekends, but could be extending its service.

A Faresaver spokesperson said, “Having recently heard the news that First Bus are cancelling the 234 service from Chippenham to Frome via Melksham and Trowbridge, we have been working hard to ensure that there will be a comprehensive service on this corridor from 2nd August 2015. Our existing service is already double the frequency of the old First service.

“We have now registered some additional journeys with the authorities which includes a Saturday service and servicing Rode on an hourly basis.

“The timetable is ‘fresh off the press’ and subject to confirmation from The Traffic Commissioner’s office.”

Graham Ellis, who is a member of the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, regularly campaigns for improved public transport in Wiltshire.

Graham said, “I’m sad to learn that First Bus have deregistered the 234 bus route from Chippenham to Frome, but not surprised.

“During much of the daytime on Monday to Friday, three buses per hour have been operating on the 234 and very similar x34 route from Faresaver, with competing buses running closely behind each other, both with far more seats than passengers.

“It’s frustrating that a sensible reduction in bus capacity on the Chippenham  to Frome corridor potentially goes too far. Full withdrawal of the 234 could mean no early morning weekday buses, mid-afternoon service gaps of over 90 minutes, and no evening services.”

Graham believes that a potential saving of over £500,000 for First could have been a motivating force behind the deregistration.

He continued, “From general information about the cost of operating buses, the cost to First of running three vehicles including early and late and Saturday services has probably been about 0.75 million pounds per annum.

“The cost to Faresaver of running six vehicles limited to Monday to Friday daytime, and doubling up those vehicles for use on school runs, will have been about 0.9 million pounds per annum – so total operation cost of the route around £1.65 million.

“Removing duplicated services would have little effect on passenger numbers on the route, and would save over half a million pounds in operating costs.”

To find out more about bus services in the area visit www.first group.com, www.fromeminibuses.co.uk, and www.faresaver.co.uk.

 

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