Interim changes to subsidised bus services in the borough, designed to support operators on a smoother post-Covid journey, will come into effect from Sunday 30 October.
The changes to certain sections of some routes, to the timetables of some buses and to the frequency of some routes, will affect services provided by Thames Valley Buses, White Bus and Bear Buses so please check the new timings and routes carefully prior to travelling.
Services will be maintained at peak times with some routes and services expanded, providing more options for travellers. No dedicated school services will be impacted, however, some public buses which serve schools will see minor changes.
Bus operators nationally, like the wider public transport sector, face a number of challenges, including changing working and travel patterns arising from Covid. This comes at a time when bus usage levels remain low compared to pre-pandemic levels and companies are having to cope with extra fuel and other cost pressures.
In the Royal Borough, around half of the bus routes are currently subsidised and bus companies rely on targeted post-Covid recovery funding, which will eventually come to an end.
To avoid losing whole routes in this uncertain environment, we’ve worked closely with bus companies to support them post-Covid, investing extra money in 2022/23 to maintain subsidised services for the time being, with a few adjustments.
This is a temporary approach while we work with operators and communities to establish a longer-term solution for the bus network from April next year that reflects changing traveller habits, with the aim of keeping residents connected in a cost-effective manner.
Councillor Phil Haseler, Cabinet Member for Planning, Parking, Highways & Transport, said: “These interim changes, agreed with bus companies, will avoid the removal of whole routes, while maintaining a good level of provision while we carry out this wider work on longer-term solutions for our bus network together.
“We recognise that bus services are valuable to our communities and businesses, in tackling climate change, and for some people this is their main way of travelling around the borough and beyond. At the same time, operators are local businesses facing unprecedented challenges and difficult decisions. This is why we’re taking this proactive approach, supporting and steering operators on their journey to transition fully and effectively into a post-Covid operating environment.
“Over the next two weeks, we’ll be widely publicising the changes coming into effect, including information at our libraries and on our website notifying users of the changes on the impacted routes. If you use any of the services affected, please do take the time to familiarise yourself with these ready for the end of October.”
For full details, pick up a leaflet from the library or visit www.rbwm.gov.uk/bus-changes. Keep an eye on the Thames Valley Buses (https://www.thamesvalleybuses.com/services), White Bus (https://www.whitebus.co.uk/bus-services/) and Bear Buses (https://bustimes.org/operators/bear-buses) websites for revised timetables.