Market Harborough bus service at risk after council says it costs £109,000

The Market Harborough town bus service is likely to be scrapped next year when Leicestershire County Council subsidy is removed.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-181104-090454005
The Market Harborough town bus service is likely to be scrapped next year when Leicestershire County Council subsidy is removed.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-181104-090454005

Market Harborough’s number 33 town-and-around bus service is at risk of being axed - because it doesn’t come close to paying for itself.

In fact the service costs Leicestershire County Council a huge £109,000 a year to keep it running, the Mail has been told.

And with the cash-strapped county looking to save £400,000 on public transport the town’s 33 service is “red-listed” in the council’s own consultation document.

That means it’s a service “likely to be discontinued” as a county-council contracted service.

Cllr Blake Pain, the county council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, stressed that the report wasn’t the end of the matter.

He said representations from the public up until June 13 could still affect the outcome. Have your say at www.leicestershire.gov.uk/passenger-transport-consultation.

Even if the service was not commercially viable, it could be replaced by a grant-aided voluntary sector service, or a “responsive” service where customers order transport the day before, Cllr Pain said.

“We’re continuing to face significant financial challenges, but we’re fully committed to continuing to support passenger transport services” he insisted.

“We have to ensure good use of the council’s limited resources by providing fit-for-purpose solutions that best meet the essential needs of Leicestershire’s residents – and that might not necessarily be the provision of a bus.”

The county council announced recently that it needs to save a total of £50 million over the next four years.

Harborough District Council’s Phil King said the council would be looking to respond to the county council report.

He said Market Harborough was expanding rapidly, and the district lacked an evening transport service. He said: “We need a serious talk about how we deal with public transportation issues.”

Cllr Sarah Hill said: “One problem is the existing services are not well marketed. Maybe we just have to be more creative in how the services are delivered,”

The 33 Centrebus service runs three loop routes around Market Harborough, hourly during the day from Monday to Saturday.

The existing subsidised 33 bus service will continue until at least June 2019.