Funding Secured for Local Bus Service
The immediate future of our local bus route, the 600 service, was secured at a meeting of Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) executive on Thursday 16 February.
Wokingham Borough Council has extended its financial support, which was due to expire at the end of March, until 31 August 2023.
Wokingham Borough Council has said: “The council is striving to protect buses and recognises their importance as a healthy, affordable way of getting to school, work or social commitments, especially given the cost of living crisis. It is also committed to addressing the climate emergency while reducing air pollution and traffic congestion.”
The existing contracts first ended on 30 June last year but the council extended them with extra funding to allow a retender for the same service levels, at the same cost, over the winter. However, this was unsuccessful.
WBC had agreed another extension to put these services out to tender for three more years from September, this time with scope for increased costs.
Tenders for these services should to go out next month with a view to awarding them in May.
Both the extended funding and new contracts will be covered, in part, by payments that developers building new homes in the borough must make towards services and infrastructure.
A growth bid for £350,000 per year has also been submitted in the Council's 2023-24 medium-term financial plan.
Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways at WBC, said: “It's still an incredibly tough climate for bus operators, but we're determined to support them because it would be so much harder to revive any routes once they're gone.
“Looking ahead, we have to be serious about reducing as many car trips as we reasonably can - and a robust, comprehensive public transport network is critical.
"We're doing everything in our power to ensure the bus will always be an option for you and your children, but we can't do this alone and need you to support them if they are to have a future.”
Cllr David Lamont, Vice Chair of Swallowfield Parish Council, said: “We are pleased that short-term funding has been put in place by WBC to provide residents who depend on and regularly use the 600 route with much needed continuity and surety.
“We will continue to work with WBC to help ensure that our local bus service is funded and remains in place over the longer term and provide updates when available.”
Cllr David Lamont, Vice-Chair, Communications Lead and Environment Lead