West Cornwall's rural bus service reprieved - but only for winter
WEST Cornwall's lifeline rural bus services will run this winter – but the rescue package is only guaranteed until April.
Western Greyhound announced two weeks ago it would pull out of Penwith following the axing of a £500,000 subsidy resulting in the loss of eight, mainly rural, services in the area from November 2.
But Cornwall councillors have worked with council officers and consulted with bodies like Age UK and Volunteer Cornwall to ensure no community is left isolated.
Councillor Jim McKenna said: "The news is more positive than originally anticipated. The majority of routes affected will be replaced in some form – either by First, by smaller operators or by community bus.
"Students with passes to schools and colleges will see their services remain, while priority will also be given to services taking people to work and to other routes where there is strong usage, for example, to the surgery at Marazion."
Councillor Bill Maddern, who represents the St Buryan ward, added: "Where possible the service replacements will be like-for-like but no community will be cut off – that is guaranteed."
However, the proposal is to slash the bus subsidy budget by more than 25 per cent next year, a proposal which councillors McKenna and Maddern say they will both fight.
Mr McKenna, who was due to attend a council finance meeting last night, said: "This proposal would be particularly serious not only for us here in west Cornwall but also in the other more rural parts of the county. I will be making the point that they should be looking elsewhere to make the cuts.
"These services are not recreational; for many people they are a real lifeline.
"If you are concerned about what will happen to your bus service from next April, I would urge you to contact your Cornwall councillor – there are 123 of us so we would need 62 to defeat this budget proposal."
Bert Biscoe, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for transport, said: "There is little doubt that without sufficient funding, the face of rural bus services will change and, going forward, we cannot rule out the loss of services where passenger numbers are particularly low."
To see the revised bus service in West Cornwall from November 3, turn to page 4.