A petition has been launched to save the one remaining Thanet bus route under threat of being withdrawn due to a county council cost-cutting exercise.
A revised list of Thanet Socially Necessary Bus Services (SNBS) which Kent County Council proposes to cut funding for in a bid to save £4million was released last night – and two Thanet routes have been removed.
The 38, 38A Palm Bay – Ramsgate – Manston – Birchington, and the 36 Herne Bay – Margate / QEQM Hospital have been removed but the 42, 42A Monkton – Ramsgate service remains on the list, meaning its subsidy from the authority is still under threat.
The authority needs to make the 70% reduction in its SNBS budget between 2018-2020.
Some 78 SNBS contracts are likely to be axed to make the £4million saving. These contracts currently provide 1.6m journeys per annum.
Ramsgate Labour councillor Karen Constantine has launched a petition to save the subsidy for the 42/42a service which runs through Ramsgate, Minster, Cliffsend and Monkton.
She said: “I was contacted months ago by residents who were already struggling with the patchy service, particularly over bank holidays, where services were very infrequent. I’ve now been contacted by parents of pupils in Ramsgate town schools and I will be doing all I can to get their voices heard and needs met. I urge people to sign the petition and to make their views know. I will be fighting this all the way.
“Without this service people become trapped. Interestingly Stagecoach profits continue to climb. Why can’t some of their profits be put back into community routes – why are we subsidising them?”
Cllr Constantine says KCC hopes to mitigate the impact of withdrawn routes by asking the voluntary sector to use minibuses during times when they would otherwise be parked up and not in use.
Kent County Council cabinet member for highways Matthew Balfour said: “The contracts under discussion could refer to the whole service, some evening journeys, weekend journeys, diversions off of the route or journeys at specific times.
“The proposal has identified bus contracts, supported by KCC, which, subject to consultation, could be withdrawn – it does not necessarily mean the whole service will go as a number of them are run by commercial companies and KCC has no bearing on how these operate.
“At present it is proposed to reduce the budget for Socially Necessary Bus Services (SNBS) by £4 million over the coming two years at a time when budgets are extremely tight.
“If agreed by members, a decision will then be made as to whether to proceed with the proposals and put them out to consultation in January.”
If Cabinet members agree the proposals to withdraw services when they meet on Thursday (November 30), a public consultation will take place from January 17, 2018 until March 27, 2018.
Consultation could mean amendments to the proposals which would be made in April 2018 and finalised by the Cabinet committee members in May 2018.
In June 2018 contract withdrawal notices will go to operators running the routes that are eventually agreed for the axe with the end of those services coming into effect from September 2018.
The 42 route
Monkton Parsonage Fields
Minster The New Inn
Minster opp. Church
Cliffsend Post Office
Rydal Avenue Shops
St. Augustine’s Park
Ramsgate Leopold Street
Grange Road Roundabout
St. Lawrence Ellington Infant School
Newington Road Post Office
St. George’s School
Dane Court School Fairfield Road
Royal Harbour Academy Newlands
Westwood Bus Depot
Westwood Cross Bus Hub
QEQM Hospital Entrance
Margate Cecil Square