Bus passengers in Poole and Bournemouth have benefitted from good partnership working between the councils and the bus companies in recent years. All parties have invested in improvements to support bus passengers and encourage more bus use. As a result Poole, and neighbouring Bournemouth, have experienced the biggest increase in bus patronage in the country over the last decade.
This position has supported past reductions in bus subsidy from Borough of Poole with relatively little impact on services. This makes Poole different to many areas in the country that have experienced huge reductions in service following the withdrawal of council subsidy.
The council spends more than £700,000 a year subsidising bus services. With the council facing a funding gap of £12 million over the next four years over and above what it has already planned, bus subsidy is again one of the areas being reviewed and potential savings identified.
Agreement has been reached to work with morebus to manage reductions in subsidy for 2016/17 to lessen the impact on passengers. A target saving of £100,000 has been set. Most of this saving is being absorbed by morebus who have agreed to reductions in funding with no changes to timetables. However, it is proposed to make changes to the timetable of one service, the 32 route, which would achieve savings of £15,278 per annum.
It is proposed to change the time of the 9.09am journey from Poole Bus Station to operate 4 minutes later throughout the bus timetable. It is also proposed to reschedule the 11.40am journey from Poole Bus Station to operate 33 minutes later throughout the timetable and to withdraw the short journey at 1.40pm that operates between Poole Bus Station and Canford Magna.
In the other direction, it is proposed to reschedule the 1.00pm journey from Bournemouth Triangle to operate 30 minutes later throughout. This journey will only operate as far as Merley and the section of route between Merley and Poole Bus Station is to be withdrawn.
Full details of these changes can be downloaded together with a feedback form at www.poole.gov.uk/buses. Feedback should be returned to the Council by 28 February 2016. On-bus passenger surveys of the affected journeys will also be undertaken during February.
Councillor Drew Mellor, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Transportation, Borough of Poole, said: “The Council is facing significant financial pressures and has had to revisit bus subsidies as an area to produce savings. We are very fortunate that the growth in bus patronage in recent years has enabled morebus to take on routes without the need for subsidy and most passengers haven’t noticed any difference. Some changes are required to the 32 route to achieve the full savings target next year but these are relatively minor.”
Any changes to the 32 route will come in with the morebus summer timetable changes at the end of May 2016. Full details of the proposals together with a feedback form may be found at www.poole.gov.uk/buses.