Wheels in motion for a review of Milton Keynes bus services next year

A bus stop in Milton Keynes
A bus stop in Milton Keynes

Council wheels are in motion for a review of bus services across Milton Keynes next year.

Wheels in motion for a review of all MK bus services next year

Council wheels are in motion for a review of all the bus services across Milton Keynes next year.

The council has a bus subsidy of just over £1.2million to pay for services on otherwise unprofitable routes and its transport chiefs want to make sure they are providing value for money.

To be able to carry out a review in 2020 the council last week (September 17) decided to extend 23 bus contracts that were due to come to an end next month (October). They carry 820,000 passengers every year and the contracts will now end in October, 2020.

The extra year gives the council time to carry out a review, to consult the public, and to keep services going. Extending the contracts will cost about £500,000 more than planned but they say they can use money from various other budget pots, including payments from developers, to fill the gap.

Steve Hayes, head of transport at MK Council, said: “Milton Keynes Council has taken the decision to extend 23 contracts with a value of £1.77m for a further year until October 2020.

“A further review will take place in 2020 along with public consultation to ensure the council is getting best value for money, but the council is committed to supporting bus services and has no plans to reduce its bus subsidy budget in the foreseeable future.”

The council did not reveal the names of the bus companies involved in the decision to extend the contracts, or the routes. But they said there have been no issues of poor performance, and that there are also a number of other current local bus contracts with a contract end date of October 2020.

In papers presented by Stuart Simmonds, the council’s public transport technical lead said: “Extending contracts to a common expiry date will be more efficient in terms of the internal process to tender services. It will also give service providers greater opportunity to combine lots to offer better value for money.”

Mr Simmonds also said that the review will intend to increase bus use, which has been in decline, and improve the long term sustainability of the network. The review will also be asking where the money will come from.