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Calls for services to be protected from cut
CONCERNS have been raised about the future of two bus services after Swindon Council voted to halve subsidies in a bid to create a fully commercial bus network across the borough.
In October, cabinet approved the basic principles for creating a new local bus strategy.
This will see the council and bus operators working together to ensure the network is sustainable in the long term in response to increasing costs and reduced Government support. It is currently 95 per cent commercial.
At the budget meeting in February, the full council agreed to slash annual subsidies from £400,000 to £200,000 to help close a £15m budget gap in 2013/14.
A total of 15 routes are subsidised and Swindon Council is looking at the services, with the aim of introducing a re-designed network in September.
The 22 service runs from Fleming Way, via old Town, to the Link Centre, and is part of a contract including the 25 bus service, which is the same as the 22 but also goes to Windmill Hill.
Coun Watts said: “The number 22 and 25 bus services are relied upon by many local residents in Old Town and in particular Okus. Cutting these bus services would have an adverse effect on my constituents and in particular the elderly, as there would be no alternative services they could use.
“People also rely on using this service to get transported to the Old Town doctors surgery.”
She said she would meet with Thamesdown Transport to see what options are available to help retain bus services going through Old Town and Okus, which take an annual subsidy of more than £100,000.
Coun Price said: “While this service is by no means perfect, it does give bus users in Coleview and Covingham the opportunity to shop at Gablecross and is very accessible for people in my area to get to the town centre.”
Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, said the council would work with operators to design the best service available for £200,000.
He said: “Nothing is sacrosanct.
“We have to look at ensuring we’re providing the best and it may be the service that comes out of this doesn’t look like anything that’s currently provided.”