MAJOR changes made to a number of bus routes across the Vale were ‘not handled very well,’ Worcestershire’s top transport chief has admitted.
As the Observer reported last week, First Bus unveiled a number of changes to services across Evesham and Pershore which took many bus users by surprise.
Worcestershire County Council cabinet member for Highways and Evesham town councillor Coun John Smith said he only found out about the changes after bus drivers told their passengers.
As the bus routes affected are commercial services, First Bus did not have to notify the council or passengers about the service changes.
Coun Smith made the comments during a meeting of Evesham Town Council’s planning committee on Monday (April 18) after councillors raised concerns about how the authority had not been told about the changes.
“These are commercial services and First Group employed a consultant to look at all their bus services they run across Worcestershire,” he said.
Coun Smith added the consultant advised First a number of routes were unprofitable and attracted few passengers and so could be removed.
“And that’s exactly what they did. They don’t have to consult with anybody; they didn’t even consult with the County Council.
With low patronage on those routes they are losing shed loads of money and they’ve withdrawn them.
“It hasn’t been handled by First very well and they acknowledge that,” he added.
In response, Ady Culpin, spokesman for First Bus said: “We have worked closely with Worcestershire County Council and other partners throughout the process to minimise inconvenience to customers, especially in more rural areas where bus services were being used sporadically by local residents.
“We produced a service change leaflet that was widely available and also posted notices on buses and some key bus stops. The media have also helped greatly by profiling the changes in detail.
“I think we did as much as we could in relation to communicating the changes to as wider audience as possible.
“It really is a balancing act when running a bus company; we need people to use the services that are in place regularly to make them commercially viable,” he added.