Thursday, 30 June 2016

Struggle to Keep Cumbrian Services Running & DDA Problems for Cumbria Classic Coaches

The Cumbrian 106 Bus Partnership is seeking donations to keep the Kendal to Penrith bus service running. Local authority bus cuts devastated most local supported services and as a result the 106 Bus Partnership was formed to keep this local link.

 The 106 is operated by Stagecoach with financial support
from the 106 Partnership

The service was brought back with just one return run on three days of the week and eventually extended to five days per week due to the finance underwritten by the 106 Partnership. An additional run back from Kendal in the holidays is also operated when the college service (506) does not run.
The partnership raises finance to pay the shortfall between money raised from fares and the cost of running the bus and needs to raise £10,000 to keep the service running.
Many residents recognise the value of a regular bus service to their community. They are not always bus users but are encouraged to make donations nevertheless. The service is supported by Parish Councils along the route, plus Penrith Town Council, Eden Housing Association and Kendal Business Improvement District.

Another service operates on part of the route between Shap and Kendal. The 570 is run by Cumbria Classic Coaches on Thursdays only and is timed to depart from Shap at 10.45 arriving in Kendal at 11.50. The return journey departs at 14.55 arriving in Shap at 15.57, offering almost three hours for shopping in Kendal for Shap residents, unlike the 106 service which is timed more for commuters.

 No financial support is on offer to Cumbria Classic Coaches
Cumbria Classic Coaches commenced the service following an approach by Shap residents and unlike the 106 service it receives no financial assistance. Most passengers make use of their bus passes and travel free of charge on the registered service, meaning that the operator is only given a percentage of the actual fare, which has to be claimed back from the local authority.
As operators of 1940's and 50's buses, which are somewhat basic compared to more recent vehicles, Cumbria Classic Coaches decided to invest in a more modern vehicle to operate this service.

Unlike the classic vehicles it has efficient heating and more space and comfortable seating but a problem is now approaching whereby the vehicle does not meet the DDA regulations for double deck vehicles which start in January 2017. Amongst other things the regulations ensure that disabled passengers can gain access and that a wheelchair bay is provided.
A decision will need to be made as to whether further investment can take place to acquire an even more modern vehicle which meets requirements, but, as no support is offered towards the service it will be a tough decision for the family run company.

Will Hamer from Cumbria Classic Coaches commented “We responded to the request from Shap residents to run the our service and have enjoyed supporting the town by doing so. However, the costs and the income received are finely balanced and we will soon have to make a tough decision on whether we can afford to invest in a more modern vehicle to enable us to continue running the Shap service.”