Western Greyhound announces Cornwall bus cuts
Western Greyhound has confirmed which Cornwall bus services will be axed this year.
One of two major service providers in the county, it has today announced which services will be affected across the Duchy as of November 3.
Routes to go include its Penzance and Hayle operation, the 530 in Bude and the 561 Camelford-Wadebridge-Bodmin service.
Western Greyhound managing director Mark Howarth said the changes came after “extensive negotiations” between the company and Cornwall Council officers, following budget cuts by the authority.
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Cornwall Council said it is working closely with bus operators to manage a £500,000 reduction in the funding available to support bus services in this current financial year.
Mr Howarth said the cuts were a "second major blow" to Western Greyhound this year, following a fire which destroyed 35 buses at its depot in Summercourt, near Newquay.
He said: "I do understand that Cornwall is under budgetary pressure and needs to save money on its budget.
"I, along with others, have fought hard for the retention of bus services for many years and am pleased that the cuts for the remainder of this year will not be as bad as initially suggested. Fortunately most evening and Sunday journeys will be retained.
“I really hope that Cornwall Council can find some money for partial replacements in the form of community buses or other alternatives to replace the bus routes being withdrawn, and that money can be found to protect the remaining network from 2014 onwards, as this is vital for the rural community.
“It is always sad when cuts are forced on us particularly when we have invested so much and my team has worked so hard to deliver a high quality standard of service."
A formal consultation has begun for affected staff and job losses are yet to be finalised, he added.
Meanwhile, the other major bus service provider in Cornwall, First, is believed to be stopping some routes in the Falmouth area.
The firm told the Cornish Guardian that there would be some changes to services and it would announce these later this afternoon.
Cornwall Council said: “We share the concerns which have been expressed by Mr Howarth over the future of bus services in Cornwall as a result of cuts in Government funding.
"The council has already been forced to make savings of £170m over the past four years as a result of these cuts and is now facing having to make further savings of £196m by 2019. We are also facing increasing pressure on the concessionary fares budget which we are legally required to support. While we are doing our best to protect essential frontline services, it is impossible to make this level of savings without affecting some services.
"Maintaining good public transport links is very important in a rural area like Cornwall and we have been working with all the bus operators to look at how best to protect bus services from the impact of further cuts in Government funding.
"90% of the bus network in Cornwall is provided by First and Western Greyhound. Over the past two months we have held detailed discussions with both companies to identify how savings could be made.
"One of the proposals which was put forward by Western Greyhound at the beginning of this process was to withdraw all their services from the Penwith area. We recognise the impact this would have on local communities and have been endeavouring to work with the company to identify alternative options.
"Ultimately, however, this is a commercial decision for the bus operator. If Western Greyhound does go ahead with its proposal, we will be working with other operators to deliver the best possible level of services within the available funding.
"We are continuing to discuss options with all the bus operators and will be inviting them to join with us in raising this issue with the Government."
A full list of changes are below:
The entire Penzance and Hayle operation (routes 501/4/7/8/9/12/13/15 will be withdrawn). We are unsure what cheaper partial replacements the County is proposing at this stage.
The last Sunday journey on Truro-St Austell 520 service on Sundays will be withdrawn but the 522 will additionally run on Sundays into Truro.
The 521 Sunday service between Newquay and St Austell will reduce from hourly to two-hourly (but 522 will partially compensate for that) and there will be some minor timetable changes. The hourly weekday service will be maintained and the service will now run to St Austell Station but will no longer run via The Co-op in St Austell. The 521 and 527 routes in Newquay will be transposed so that the 521 will run via Treloggan and Hendra and 527 will operate via St Columb Major.
A brand-new Sunday service will be introduced on the 522 St Austell – Nanpean – Grampound – Truro service and certain journeys will run to St Austell Station.
524/5/6 will be improved to run every half hour between Fowey and Mevagissey/Heligan via St Austell Station. This will partially replace First 27 which will no longer run to St Blazey or Par. No journeys will run beyond Heligan to Gorran. Buses will only operate to Trevarth in Mevagissey (not via School Hill) so that we can use larger vehicles on the route due to overloading. Buses will run to Heligan twice an hour on either the outbound or return journeys not both. The Sunday service will be revised to two-hourly between Fowey and St Austell and hourly between St Austell and Mevagissey/Heligan.
The 527 between Newquay and Eden will run via the A390 instead of Tregrehan between Chapelfields and Eden and there will be a revised timetable. This will provide improved connections for passengers from Fowey travelling to Eden. All buses will run via St Austell Station.
The 529 between St Austell and Bodmin will have a slightly revised timetable and will be re-routed via Carlyon Road and Eliot Road. All buses will run to St Austell Station.
As noted above, St Austell services will now run into the Station and most will arrive and depart at similar times past the hour to allow inter-connections to be made between services.
The contract for service 530 in Bude has been terminated and the service will be withdrawn. We are unsure what cheaper partial replacements the County is proposing at this stage.
Service 547 between Newquay and St Ives will be withdrawn for the winter but will be returning at Easter for the summer.
Service 550 between Truro and St Mawes will lose its Saturday evening journeys but the Sunday service will be retained with minor changes
Service 558 Newquay – Pentire will have a slightly revised timetable
Service 559 will no longer double-run to Bedowan Meadows and will run between Newquay, Chester Road, Trerice Drive and Morrisons only to a revised timetable.
Service 561 will be withdrawn. Again, we are unsure what cheaper partial replacements the County is proposing at this stage.
A brand-new Sunday service will be introduced between Polperro, Looe, St Germans and Plymouth on service 572
Service 585/586 between Newquay and Truro via Newlyn East will revert to the original route as we are advised that the Fiddlers Green bridge will reopen at the beginning of November. Service 585 will be reduced in frequency and operate on Mondays to Fridays only. A brand-new Sunday service on 586 will be introduced between Newquay and Truro via Newlyn East.
Service 591/2/4 will revert back to the original numbers – 597 Newquay – St Columb Major – Truro (hourly), 587 Newquay – Perranporth – St Agnes – Truro (hourly). 594 will run Wadebridge – St Columb (connecting at St Columb with the hourly 593 between Newquay and Plymouth) – Truro (hourly). And a new day-time 588 will run Truro – Malabar - Perranzabuloe – Perranporth (hourly). The excellent news here is that it will double the frequency between Perranporth and Truro to two buses an hour all day and hourly on evenings and Sundays. This will also partially replace First’s 85/85A to St Agnes and First’s 27 service into Malabar which are both being withdrawn.