Bishop's Stortford Town Council ready to pay extra £4,252 for bus service with no passengers
A new stride and ride service for Bishop's Stortford commuters faces the axe after no passengers signed up for a seat this week.
In each of the previous two weeks of the trial from the Thorley Park Neighbourhood Centre to the train station, just one traveller pre-booked a £17.50 weekly ticket. Day passes are also available
The town and East Herts district councils have already backed the public transport initiative to the tune of £3,600 each and on Monday, members of the former's finance and policy committee agreed in principle that a further £4,252 should be used to continue the three-month trial in a "worst case scenario".
Cllr George Cutting said: "I'm absolutely opposed to pulling this simply because it could be accused of falling at the first fence."
Tonight (Wednesday) an emergency meeting will take place to thrash out the detail of a rescue plan and, subject to the approval of all town councillors, the authority will plough on with the pilot which provides five weekday departures in the morning and seven return journeys in the evening, scheduled to coincide with the most popular trains. Each minibus has capacity for 15 passengers and the town council needs a 75% occupancy rate to break even.
The project, designed to cut congestion and improve air quality, is the brainchild of former deputy mayor, Cllr Holly Drake, who tested the route and timetable herself to ensure it could deliver a reliable service for commuters into London. She feared many of those who would use the minibus had already purchased a season ticket for the station car park costing £45 a week. She said: "We should not give up."
With cross-party support for backing improvements in public transport in this month's local government elections, she said: "It would be foolish to walk away without exploring the options."
The informal task and finish group will discuss a leafletting campaign targetting Thorley Park, new advertising, a more flexible carnet system for those who do not need to travel five days a week and the potential of a free or cut-price trial for passengers to get the existing service on track. Members will also consider wide-ranging changes for the future - such as new departure points - to effect a "modal shift" in travel habits.
Cllr Judith Ranger said: "People must use it or lose it."
For more details see https://www.bishopsstortfordtc.gov.uk/stride-ride