Bus company Whippet puts profit before customers

by johnwilliams on 11 August, 2017

The bus company Whippet now owned by Australian transport multinational Tower Transit has told Cambridgeshire County Council and the Traffic Commissioner that it no longer wants to run the subsidised route 18 which runs between Cambridge City and Newmarket via Teversham, Fulbourn, the Wilbrahams and Six Mile Bottom and will stop at the end of the month.

The County Council wants to continue with this route and expected it would be straightforward to get another operator but so far no one has tendered even though there is more money on the table – not even Whippet who claimed it can’t afford to run it with the current subsidy.  If no bus operator comes forward then this popular route will have to cease.

The County Council is barred from running its own buses and the newly elected Mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who is now response for our public transport services has yet to make up his mind about using his powers to franchise our bus services.

If there ever is an example that the open market cannot run public transport this is it and that the amount of money given to operators for concessionary pass users is completely inadequate. Ironically if the Government paid the bus operator the adult fare for every concessionary pass holder carried the route wouldn’t be making a loss and council taxpayers wouldn’t have to subsidise it.

Currently bus operators in Cambridgeshire receive about £1 for every concessionary pass – so even a full double decker of concessionary pass holders can’t cover the cost of running the service.  Of course concessionary pass holders could forego using their pass and pay the adult fare but in rural areas routes are long and costly and most holders are not well off and so this is impractical.

The summer holidays is adding to the difficulty in getting this sorted before the end of the month so to be honest I’m not hopeful that something will be in place for when Whippet pulls off the route.

And the Mayor had better pull his finger out or he may find there aren’t any rural services left by the time he comes to a conclusion.

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