06 December 2012

Cornwall County Cutbacks

Western Greyhound have made more timetable changes to many of their services and have made sure that passengers know why these latest cuts have been made:

Many buses have been withdrawn or amended from this weekend because Cornwall Council has slashed the reimbursement to bus operators for people who travel free using Concessionary Fare cards by over half. Half of our passengers don't pay anything so we have lost 25% of our revenue in one swoop. No business can survive that sort of onslaught. Cornwall Council did this despite being told that many services would have to be axed. Our reimbursement is now only 36% of the average fare, cut from 73.5%. At the same time, the Govt imposed a massive 58% hike in fuel tax to bus operators (and ONLY bus operators).!! On top of that, Cornwall Council cancelled our five-year tendered service contracts in the first year, after we had invested £1.5million in new vehicles, ticket machines, training, etc leaving us with a massive investment with no revenue stream. And this on top of all the normal inflationary increases, fuel and tyre price hikes, expensive compliance with new legislation etc.

That has meant that many services that previously operated commercially with no recourse to the public purse now lose money. We are a small business and cannot carry on like that as you will appreciate. We have begged Cornwall Council to pay a sensible amount in accordance with the Govt guidelines to save these services but they have steadfastly refused to do so - and we are as upset about this as our customers, having invested so much money in improving bus services in the area. We have managed to save quite a few services despite this massive hit. Cornwall Council does have the ability to buy in services that have been cut, but have told us that they have no money to do so. In fact, we are told more cuts can be expected. Many buses that are being axed are well-loaded and vital to the communities they serve and in many cases are fully loaded, but are losing money – this has to be an absolutely ridiculous situation!

Please contact Cornwall Council Passenger Transport Unit (ptu@cornwall.gov.uk) and complain direct to them and tell them of your hardships. We really sympathize but as a small business, our hands are tied. And it is galling for us who have invested so much time and effort into these bus services, growing the market, being innovative, delivering a high quality bus service, to see them now being dismantled.


The local routes affected are as follows:

  • 572 – from 2nd December 2012, this service will be altered to run between Polperro and Plymouth. The service will be increased to an hourly frequency between Polperro and Plymouth, offering a half hourly frequency between Tideford and Plymouth (in conjunction with the 593), providing much needed additional seats on this section of the route. Services will also return to operating to and from Bretonside Bus Station (Stand 4) and will no longer call at Exeter Street.
  • 573 – from 2nd December 2012, this service will be altered to run between Callington and Polperro via Liskeard and Looe, with the former 574 journeys incorporated. An hourly service between Callington and Polperro will be provided, along with a half hourly service between Looe and Polperro (in conjunction with the new 572 service). Polperro Village will no longer be served, with journeys terminating and departing from Polperro Crumplehorn only.
  • 574 – from 2nd December 2012, this service number will effectively be retired, with all but a handful of journeys incorporated into the new 573. Several journeys will still operate under ‘the 574’ – namely the journeys on the 572 timetable which are scheduled to call at Hannafore and the journeys on the 573 timetable which operate direct between Liskeard, St Ive and Callington.
  • 576 – from 2nd December 2012, this service will return to operating to and from Bretonside Bus Station (Stand 3) and will no longer call at Exeter Street. All journey running times remain unchanged.
  • the 593 – from 2nd December 2012, this service will be altered to run hourly between Newquay and Plymouth via St Columb Major, Bodmin and Liskeard. The old 592 will be withdrawn and the number reassigned to the new Newquay Truro circular service (clockwise). There will be a half hourly service between Newquay and St Columb Major (in conjunction with the new 591/592) and between Tideford and Plymouth (in conjunction with the new 572). The route in Saltash will be slightly altered, with buses now operating via Callington Road en route to Fore Street rather than New Road and Glebe Avenue. This service will also return to operating to and from Bretonside Bus Station (Stand 4) and will no longer call at Exeter Street.
Western Greyhound 931 WK57TAF

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  1. Sounds like a company on the way out to me!!!

  2. I think that it is a shame that Western Greyhound are having to reduce services. Over the past 10 years or so they have built up a comprehensive and efficient network especially in the once poorly served north and east of the county. In many ways the level of services in the 2000's outstrips anything that was seen before, even in the days of the National Bus Company.

    Operators big and small cannot sustain the level of cuts to concessionary fare reimbursement rates or in grant support and continue to provide all services. Services that were once profitable are now no longer viable. The only option for operators is therefore to prun their network to sustain their business.

    Local authorities don't have the money to sustain reimbursement levels at previous levels and have a myriad of pressures mounting on their budgets. It should be for the Government to act, either give the local authorities the money to operate the concessionary scheme and reimburse operators correctly or re-think the whole scheme.

    I am sure most people would rather pay a fair fare rather than lose their bus service. There is no point in free travel with no buses. Better for the Government to use money allocated to providing free services to use that to develop the bus network.

  3. Seems like WGL have decided they having to lose and are saying things how they are. Sadly, it sounds like the company is about to go under. Witness also the deterioration in vehicle condition - a sign of a company running out of money. I really hope WGL does survive, but having to cut back services will worsen the financial position of their remaining routes as without a depot closure overheads will have to spread across fewer routes.

    36% is a shamefully low rate for reimbursement. Add into that BSOG reforms and the need to be rid of their Varios by Jan 2015 it all looks pretty dire.

    I think buses in Cornwall are going to be unrecognisable in a year's time. I predict a change of both main operators and more cuts.

  4. I agree with above,, I think Western Greyhound will be forced out...First will take over these routes probably..then look to sell their Corwall operations on..possibly to Stagecoach!!

  5. As owner of Western Greyhound, we are neither on the way out or being forced out by anyone. And yesterday's acceptance by Cornwall Council that it was not paying us correctly on reimbursement for Concessionary Fares (only 36%!) and have immediately put the matter right, has strengthened our position. Work this out. If you have half your revenue swiped out overnight for half you passengers (Conc Fares card holders) and at the smae time, have an addded 58% increase added to your costs in fuel tax, life will not go on as it did before. We are therefore repositioning our business and strengthening what is good (eg increase to half-hourly Tideford/Landrake/Plymouth, and increase to hourly 572 Looe - Plymouth, back extended to Polperro) and reduced some of the operations that were not washing their face financially. It is always sad to cut, particularly after the hard work that has been put in to build the network, but we are not a charity, we are a business and will continue to grow the market where there is potential to do so. We stopped our repainting programme a year ago, as we are hoping to refresh the image early in 2013 and we want to move fast with that, and not let it take ages because much of the fleet had already been repainted. There is usually a reason for everything, part of a detailed ongoing business plan, and much outside speculation is often unfounded and incorrect!! And we are back into Bretonside now that Plymouth City Council have abandoned the crippling departure and parking charges. And we are not alone in cutting in Cornwall, First have been gradually cutting for years and even Summercourt travel has deregistered its main commercial route between Newquay and Truro!

  6. But I've been told there is no change in the cornwall concessions scheme. Still at a 50% reimbursement rate which was introduced in April this year and the same for next year. So I'm lost on your comment on concessions, unless I've missed something. ?

  7. First fare revision fm 30/12/12.. See several fare reductions in cornwall. Turning the screw on the greyhound perhaps?[

    1. Hardly surprising considering Western Greyhounds emotive public statement.


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