Bracknell Forest Council’s decision-making executive will consider proposals to make supported bus services more efficient and environmentally friendly at its meeting next week.
The proposed changes include merging the under used 162/162A service (Bracknell to Winkfield/ Ascot) with the 299 service (Bracknell to Warfield Park) to maintain a route for those who most need it. Merging the two would reduce running costs by around £125,000, costs which are picked up by taxpayers as it’s a supported service, and reduce carbon emissions as it would stop a nearly empty bus from running frequently.
If agreed, the service would see the normal 299 service extended in route to pick up the area no longer served by the 162/162A. The 299 would also see an increase in frequency to 3 days a week (Monday/Wednesday /Friday) operating 5 journeys on each day.
The nearby 703 commercial service would remain unaffected.
The executive will also consider changes to the 108, 150 and 158 evening bus services, which have historically carried very few passengers. The low usage of these services has been further exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 restrictions on pubs, cafes and restaurants closing at 10pm.
If the executive agrees, these evening services will be suspended until The Deck opens, which aims to bring an increase to the town’s evening economy. This would reduce running costs by around £18,000. Meanwhile, the council is exploring a single later bus which could replace individual routes.
Cllr Chris Turrell, Executive Member for Planning and Transport, said:
“Declining passenger numbers on some routes means the cost to the council of supporting bus services is rising considerably.
“We know that supported services are important to a small number of our residents, so by working closely with Courtney Buses we have looked very carefully at which services can be retained and those we can make more efficient, while limiting the impact on bus users.
“It is not financially or environmentally sustainable to have near-empty buses running around the borough, so the executive will be asked to approve proposals to make changes in line with customer demand when it meets next week.”
The council’s executive will discuss the proposals at its meeting on Tuesday, 10 November. If agreed, details of the changes will be published in advance of the changes coming in to place in early 2021.