A bus service due to stop running this Friday will be back on the road after Halton Borough Council stepped in to find a new operator.
Following the recent decision by Warrington’s Own Buses to discontinue the No.62 bus service between Runcorn and Warrington, Halton Borough Council tendered for the service and local company Ashcroft Travel will now provide this service under contract with the Council, which is providing a financial subsidy.
Warrington’s Own Buses ran the No.62 for over three-and-a-half years, on a commercial basis, with the Council providing a level of financial subsidy. The company made variations to the service, including timetable and route changes, to ensure it remained viable.
However, despite their best efforts, the company reached a view the service was not commercially viable and they had no alternative but to discontinue it on Friday 22nd September.
The Council carried out a tender exercise with alternative bus operators to provide the service going forward, recognising that the loss of the No.62 would leave Moore without a bus service as there are no close alternative routes.
Under Ashcroft Travel, the timetable will remain practically the same – an hourly service will be provided, Monday to Friday (except public holidays) starting on Monday 25th September.
At a time of significant pressure on budgets, and the small amount of funding to support bus routes already being oversubscribed, it was fortunate that the Mersey Gateway Sustainable Travel Fund has been able to provide the funding required to retain the No.62 service for the time being – it is hoped this reprieve will allow time for the route to re-establish itself on a commercial footing.
The Council will monitor usage of the service operated by Ashcroft Travel and will work with the operator to encourage increased passenger usage.
Cllr Stef Nelson, the Council’s portfolio holder for transportation, said it is vital that people do use this service to enable it to remain viable.
“This reprieve for the 62 service is good news. The Council recognises that public transport is a life line to some members of the community.
“It is also a timely reminder that these are commercial services – so it can be a case of use it, or lose it.”