Council pledges to support residents left stranded by bus service cuts in their Milton Keynes town
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Councillors have set the wheels in motion to support a town’s vulnerable bus service.
MK Labour has pledged to support the Number 41 bus service which runs through Olney, with a leading Cabinet Member highlighting plans to increase the service’s frequency for the rest of the year.
The service, run by private operator Stagecoach, is currently operating a limited timetable due to reduced passenger numbers. This has had a knock-on effect for residents who rely on the bus to get them from Bedford to Olney, Northampton, and surrounding villages.
The City Council, although not responsible for private bus routes, has been supporting services by providing subsidised fares and discretionary funding for vital routes at risk of withdrawal.
Councillor Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Public Transport, is now pledging to use part of the council’s bus recovery funding to keep the struggling Number 41 service afloat.
Thet would use the funding to increase the Number 41’s frequency, meaning more buses would run through Olney each day. The grant would also ensure promotion of the service, highlighting the need for increased passenger numbers to make it viable long term. This support would come into effect from June 2023 and last for a set period to help the operator sustain the service while passenger numbers recover.
Councillor Wilson-Marklew said: “The number 41 bus is a real lifeline to people in Olney and the surrounding villages, as many people rely on the bus to get them to and from work and school.
"Just like many other services, this route has suffered a post-pandemic hit and has had to cut its timetable. I’ve been working with Olney Town Council to try and secure the future of the service, and that is why MK Labour is pledging to temporarily increase the 41’s frequency and increase the visibility of service.
“Sadly, many bus routes are operating at a loss which means they simply aren’t commercially viable. We expect to see cuts to services if passenger numbers don’t increase. MK Labour will support bus operators and provide support for routes for wherever we can. However, we do not have the millions it would take to fully subsidise bus services in the city, particularly with a significant funding cut thanks to Government cuts and unprecedented inflation in costs."