Huntingdonshire bus routes face axe as operator bids to cut losses

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 July 2017

Archant

Bus services in Huntingdonshire are set to be hit after a leading operator announced it would cease running a number of unprofitable routes.

Whippet Coaches revealed last week that many of its routes were operating at a loss because of rising costs and stagnant subsidies and it would therefore be pulling out of operating 16 services in Cambridgeshire.

Whippet Coaches revealed last week that many of its routes were operating at a loss because of rising costs and stagnant subsidies and it would therefore be pulling out of operating 16 services in Cambridgeshire.

Services affected in Huntingdonshire include the 1, 1A, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 21, and 45/45A, which, between them, cover St Ives, Fenstanton, Hilton, the Hemingfords, Papworth, Huntingdon, Colne, Somersham, Earith, Bluntisham, Needingworth, Ramsey, Warboys, Pidley, Wyton, and Houghton.

Whippet says it plans to stop the services from September 2.

A spokesman said: “A large percentage of our bus services are contracts on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council and these have run for many years at their original rates.

“During this time our operating costs have increased significantly and it is no longer possible to continue to provide these services at a loss. We also run a number of services on a commercial basis and some of these are not covering their operating costs.”

The company said the decision to cancel the routes was made “after six months of careful consideration” and discussions with the county council about how the services could continue to operate.

The spokesman added: “We recognise the impact this will have on our communities, communities that Whippet Coaches, our drivers and our staff are a part of.

“However, low patronage and fare collection on the affected services mean they have been operating at a loss for the past two years, with Whippet subsidising the operating costs.”

Alongside the news regarding cuts to routes, Whippet also confirmed that it would be increasing and amending some of its services, including routes 476 and 477 - which serve Godmanchester and Huntingdon – route C – which runs between St Ives and Cambridgeshire – and the X3, which runs between Huntingdon and Cambridge.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “We’re aware that Whippet Coaches have made changes to some of their local bus routes. The county council is currently considering options for providing alternative services and further information will be provided once details are available.”

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