Arriva Buses have announced that bus services in Telford are changing. Some services are being withdrawn and a new circular “99” service is being launched.
Bus services are essential to many people in Telford: people with disabilities, students, and the elderly as well as those who need a reliable service to get to work. A good bus service is crucial to the local economy. Since the pandemic passenger habits have changed with some routes no longer able to cover operating costs from fares alone.
To support passengers and encourage more users, the Government has ensured that a single journey now costs no more than £2. This subsidy will continue until 31st October 2023, with fares then capped at £2.50 until November 2024. This has been a very welcome measure for bus users in Telford.
In addition, last month, the Transport Minister Richard Holden MP advised Telford & Wrekin Councillors that the Government is providing the Council with an additional £650,938 for the current year. Again, this is welcome news. During my time as Telford’s MP, the Government has given record sums to the Council for public services, resident support packages and critical infrastructure investment, often significantly exceeding Government funding per head given to neighbouring councils. This has been in part due to my work in Parliament and to Council officers helping to secure funding for our area.
Labour Councillors, as part of their political campaigning, say Telford is being shortchanged. They also claim publicly that Telford has not received any additional funding for buses, despite having been personally notified in writing by the Minister of the extra funding for 2023/24.
Many residents feel their travel needs have not been taken into consideration by the Council when spending the extra funding allocated for Telford. It is not clear whether the new ‘99’ service will cover the gaps and it may even be duplicating some services.
I will monitor the Council’s use of the extra funding for buses, to ensure it is spent wisely. These bus services are subsidised by the taxpayer and paid for by bus users’ fares, so we must ensure that residents get the services they need.