Buses fare poorly in tough conditions

Swindon Advertiser: Trading conditions have been challenging for Thamesdown Buses Trading conditions have been challenging for Thamesdown Buses

TOUGH trading conditions are being blamed for a poor financial year at Thamesdown Transport, meaning payments cannot be given to Swindon Council, which owns the bus company.

They were scheduled to pay the council £350,000, of which £100,000 had been carried over from a previous year, but now have said they can offer nothing.

A number of factors are being given for the lack of funds ranging from a cut in grants to a reduction in the number of bus users.

 

Swindon Advertiser:

Paul Jenkins, managing director of Thamesdown, pictured above, said: “I can confirm that our owners, Swindon Council, have reduced the amount of income they expect to receive from us for the 2014/15 financial year in recognition of our difficult trading conditions.

“Decisions regarding income from us for 2015 onwards will be made by the council nearer the time.”

Thamesdown Transport is an ‘arms-length’ company, which means that while it is owned by the council, it has no say in its operation.

With money already tight within the council the shortage of money has come as a blow. However, the councillor responsible for transport has said that it is more important that the town has a fully functional bus service.

Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), cabinet member for leisure and transport said: “This has obviously come as a bit of blow as it is money we had factored into our cash flow but as we own the company we want them to succeed.

“Whilst we would prefer they could make the payment, I would much rather the town had a high quality bus company operating with a reasonable level of liquidity.

“Those running Thamesdown Transport have many years of experience in running bus companies so I am sure they will know how to move the company forward.”

Earlier this year, a number of key routes were altered leaving some residents unhappy but Coun Williams said no further major changes are planned.

He said: “Following on from the changes everyone is now looking for some stability. We know there have been some changes but there is nothing new planned.

“What is important to note is that the buses are a very good indicator of the economic conditions. Shortly before the economic downturn the number of users began to drop.

“Now with the conditions in the economy picking up hopefully we should see things improving on the buses.”

Comments (16)

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7:23am Tue 4 Feb 14

Al Smith says...

Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.
Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport. Al Smith

8:00am Tue 4 Feb 14

John~R says...

While some services are well patronised there are others where I often see no more than about 4 passengers. Is there scope to put minibuses onto these services which would substantially reduce the fuel bill?
While some services are well patronised there are others where I often see no more than about 4 passengers. Is there scope to put minibuses onto these services which would substantially reduce the fuel bill? John~R

8:34am Tue 4 Feb 14

A.Baron-Cohen says...

Privatize Thamesdown
Let other companies bid for the contract, this is the best way to get value for money for the Swindon taxpayers.
Privatize Thamesdown Let other companies bid for the contract, this is the best way to get value for money for the Swindon taxpayers. A.Baron-Cohen

8:44am Tue 4 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

Al Smith wrote:
Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.
Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it.

So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit.

Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.
[quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.[/p][/quote]Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it. So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit. Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous. ChannelX

9:12am Tue 4 Feb 14

Davethered says...

I've noticed they've done away with the yellow Decker buses on school runs at the Ridgeway school now and replaced each double decker with three single deckers. So three times the wages , three times as much fuel , pollution , wear and tear of the vehicles , you just couldn't make up what's going on at Thamesdown transport at the moment. I think they want to go into Liquidation , they are certainly trying their best.
I've noticed they've done away with the yellow Decker buses on school runs at the Ridgeway school now and replaced each double decker with three single deckers. So three times the wages , three times as much fuel , pollution , wear and tear of the vehicles , you just couldn't make up what's going on at Thamesdown transport at the moment. I think they want to go into Liquidation , they are certainly trying their best. Davethered

9:55am Tue 4 Feb 14

The Real Librarian says...

Meanwhile Stagecoach profits are up 8%.

Their fares are lower, they offer a fuller service with more regular busses and better Sunday service (they even cover some Thamesdown routes,) AND they give change,

Despite all that they are doing better than Thamesdown.

Time for a new Operations Director I think.
Meanwhile Stagecoach profits are up 8%. Their fares are lower, they offer a fuller service with more regular busses and better Sunday service (they even cover some Thamesdown routes,) AND they give change, Despite all that they are doing better than Thamesdown. Time for a new Operations Director I think. The Real Librarian

10:39am Tue 4 Feb 14

Robh says...

ChannelX wrote:
Al Smith wrote:
Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.
Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it.

So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit.

Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.
So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours.

Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY??

The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long.
[quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.[/p][/quote]Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it. So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit. Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.[/p][/quote]So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours. Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY?? The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long. Robh

10:59am Tue 4 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

You're right, why do buses run so frequently during long periods of the day when virtually nobody uses them?

You can't not cut a bus service just because people 'are used to them'.

Buses are not cars and they are not taxis, the service is not intended to suit every individual's whims when it comes to times and route. It would be impossible for everyone's preferences to be catered for.

Half the reason the company is not making much money is because they're paying for buses to run around giving rides to 3 or 4 people. Clearly it makes no economic sense.
You're right, why do buses run so frequently during long periods of the day when virtually nobody uses them? You can't not cut a bus service just because people 'are used to them'. Buses are not cars and they are not taxis, the service is not intended to suit every individual's whims when it comes to times and route. It would be impossible for everyone's preferences to be catered for. Half the reason the company is not making much money is because they're paying for buses to run around giving rides to 3 or 4 people. Clearly it makes no economic sense. ChannelX

11:02am Tue 4 Feb 14

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

Robh wrote:
ChannelX wrote:
Al Smith wrote:
Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.
Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it.

So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit.

Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.
So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours.

Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY??

The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long.
I do tend to agree with you, but using that route is a bad example. The Orbital centre is approximately 10-15 minutes walk from Blunsdon, maybe 20 minutes if you live at the far end of Blunsdon. Realistically the majority of people using the service would be pensioners or the disabled who do not actually pay.
[quote][p][bold]Robh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.[/p][/quote]Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it. So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit. Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.[/p][/quote]So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours. Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY?? The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long.[/p][/quote]I do tend to agree with you, but using that route is a bad example. The Orbital centre is approximately 10-15 minutes walk from Blunsdon, maybe 20 minutes if you live at the far end of Blunsdon. Realistically the majority of people using the service would be pensioners or the disabled who do not actually pay. The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man

11:21am Tue 4 Feb 14

Robh says...

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man wrote:
Robh wrote:
ChannelX wrote:
Al Smith wrote:
Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.
Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it.

So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit.

Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.
So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours.

Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY??

The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long.
I do tend to agree with you, but using that route is a bad example. The Orbital centre is approximately 10-15 minutes walk from Blunsdon, maybe 20 minutes if you live at the far end of Blunsdon. Realistically the majority of people using the service would be pensioners or the disabled who do not actually pay.
They do not pay but the council does so it all goes into the pot. The trouble is Thamesdown Transport want their bread buttered on both sides they want a grant to run the service as well as charging for pensioners 'Free' travel.
[quote][p][bold]The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Robh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.[/p][/quote]Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it. So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit. Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.[/p][/quote]So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours. Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY?? The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long.[/p][/quote]I do tend to agree with you, but using that route is a bad example. The Orbital centre is approximately 10-15 minutes walk from Blunsdon, maybe 20 minutes if you live at the far end of Blunsdon. Realistically the majority of people using the service would be pensioners or the disabled who do not actually pay.[/p][/quote]They do not pay but the council does so it all goes into the pot. The trouble is Thamesdown Transport want their bread buttered on both sides they want a grant to run the service as well as charging for pensioners 'Free' travel. Robh

12:13pm Tue 4 Feb 14

pmc1947 says...

Davethered wrote:
I've noticed they've done away with the yellow Decker buses on school runs at the Ridgeway school now and replaced each double decker with three single deckers. So three times the wages , three times as much fuel , pollution , wear and tear of the vehicles , you just couldn't make up what's going on at Thamesdown transport at the moment. I think they want to go into Liquidation , they are certainly trying their best.
Could not agree more Dave. Living in Wroughton we are served by Stagecoach who provide a much user friendly service. I think it is time Thamesdown was sold to a company that knows how to run buses on routes that people find useful. Also the other comment of a 10-15 min walk from Blunsdon may be OK downhill but not back when carrying bags of shopping even for an Olympic athlete.
[quote][p][bold]Davethered[/bold] wrote: I've noticed they've done away with the yellow Decker buses on school runs at the Ridgeway school now and replaced each double decker with three single deckers. So three times the wages , three times as much fuel , pollution , wear and tear of the vehicles , you just couldn't make up what's going on at Thamesdown transport at the moment. I think they want to go into Liquidation , they are certainly trying their best.[/p][/quote]Could not agree more Dave. Living in Wroughton we are served by Stagecoach who provide a much user friendly service. I think it is time Thamesdown was sold to a company that knows how to run buses on routes that people find useful. Also the other comment of a 10-15 min walk from Blunsdon may be OK downhill but not back when carrying bags of shopping even for an Olympic athlete. pmc1947

1:32pm Tue 4 Feb 14

swindondad says...

For those people who can commute to / from work by bus it is a cheaper (using a season ticket) if less convenient method than using your own car.

As others have said the “off peak” frequency of many services is so high that you end up with near empty buses whilst on the same routes you are lucky to get a seat during peak periods. Why they run busses at high frequency during periods of low demand is beyond me. The worst example of this used to be the “park & ride” busses from the copse, it would have made a profit if they had reduced the frequency of “out of hours” busses but that was obviously a bit too complicated for TT / SBC to work out.
For those people who can commute to / from work by bus it is a cheaper (using a season ticket) if less convenient method than using your own car. As others have said the “off peak” frequency of many services is so high that you end up with near empty buses whilst on the same routes you are lucky to get a seat during peak periods. Why they run busses at high frequency during periods of low demand is beyond me. The worst example of this used to be the “park & ride” busses from the copse, it would have made a profit if they had reduced the frequency of “out of hours” busses but that was obviously a bit too complicated for TT / SBC to work out. swindondad

4:20pm Tue 4 Feb 14

DLP OldTown says...

Anyone with a bit of sense knows 7.30am to 9am buses will be full, taking people to work/school/college same again at the end of the working day. The rest of the time a few shoppers giving those charity and pound shops a hammering, so why not reduce buses during the day.
I would have thought that this brilliant town of ours that 'thinks outside the box' would purchase a dozen smaller cost effective buses to ferry people around during off peak hours.
Anyone with a bit of sense knows 7.30am to 9am buses will be full, taking people to work/school/college same again at the end of the working day. The rest of the time a few shoppers giving those charity and pound shops a hammering, so why not reduce buses during the day. I would have thought that this brilliant town of ours that 'thinks outside the box' would purchase a dozen smaller cost effective buses to ferry people around during off peak hours. DLP OldTown

5:14pm Tue 4 Feb 14

anotherimigrant says...

Cant stop laughing. Owned by us, no say in how it's run, no accountability, NOTHING. LOL.

Only in Swinedon
Cant stop laughing. Owned by us, no say in how it's run, no accountability, NOTHING. LOL. Only in Swinedon anotherimigrant

5:21pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Al Smith says...

Robh wrote:
ChannelX wrote:
Al Smith wrote:
Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.
Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it.

So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit.

Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.
So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours.

Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY??

The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long.
Looking at the route of the 12 it does seem bonkers that it doesn't serve Blunsdon especially when that would provide a direct service to the GWH. What TT do with the 12 in respect of the new Morrisons in Eldene will be interesting, a short diversion up Dorcan Way would give access to the new store and provide Eldene residents with a link to the GWH.
[quote][p][bold]Robh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Al Smith[/bold] wrote: Cutting bus services isn't going to help income either is it? Some areas no longer have any sort of evening bus service, so people doing shift work who could previously get home in the evening no longer can, so have to seek alternative transport.[/p][/quote]Cutting services that are barely used obviously saves money, lots of it. So, no, it doesn't increase income, but it does reduce expenditure and helps the bus company at least try and run at a profit. Far too many buses still run around Swindon virtually empty for the majority of the day. It's quite ridiculous.[/p][/quote]So why do buses run so frequently during the day? Once an hour is suitable for many people with an increased frequency in the rush hours. Why cut services when people have just got used to them? You might get a job that is easy to get to by bus and they change the route. WHY?? The No. 12 was convenient for Blunsdon residents to get to the Orbital Centre now the only way to get there in common with many other trips is to go into town and back out. This just makes the journey take so long.[/p][/quote]Looking at the route of the 12 it does seem bonkers that it doesn't serve Blunsdon especially when that would provide a direct service to the GWH. What TT do with the 12 in respect of the new Morrisons in Eldene will be interesting, a short diversion up Dorcan Way would give access to the new store and provide Eldene residents with a link to the GWH. Al Smith

11:17pm Tue 4 Feb 14

Eastern Badger says...

Unfortunately SBC's Local Plan justifies tens of thousands of new homes in the Borough on the basis of 'modal shift' at rates not seen outside cities. They seriously think a high percentage of the population will switch to bus transport?? At least they are convinced. At least with new housing the developer contributions subsidise something which is unsustainable for a few years so we all think it works.
Unfortunately SBC's Local Plan justifies tens of thousands of new homes in the Borough on the basis of 'modal shift' at rates not seen outside cities. They seriously think a high percentage of the population will switch to bus transport?? At least they are convinced. At least with new housing the developer contributions subsidise something which is unsustainable for a few years so we all think it works. Eastern Badger

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