Loss-making school bus service is axed

Stagecoach’s 432 bus service, which took pupils from Longwell Green, North Common, Oldland Common and Willsbridge to Wellsway School and IKB Academy in Keynsham, has been axed.

Parents have been told in a letter from Wellsway Multi Academy Trust’s director of education Gary Shlick that the service, which ran on school days from The Crown in Longwell Green to the Keynsham campus, will not resume when the new term begins in September.

He said: “We have spoken to Stagecoach, who operate the service, and it is clear the route has been making a significant loss for some time. We have expressed our concerns regarding this decision and have asked Stagecoach to reconsider.

“However, there is no likelihood this service will be resumed. This is not a statutory service and it is not possible for the school to find the significant amount of money required to subsidise this transport.”

This week James O’Neill, commercial manager at Stagecoach West, told The Week In: “Since acquiring the 432 service to and from Wellsway School in 2018, we have been running the service on a fully commercial basis, which means that it relies solely on ticket sales to cover the costs of operation.

“Unfortunately, during this period, we have seen passenger numbers and revenue decline, which has led to the service losing a significant sum of money each day. This issue pre-dates COVID-19, which we suspect would have further impacted revenue.

“At Stagecoach we do our very best to operate a comprehensive local bus network, balancing ticket income against expenditure.

“Unfortunately, we cannot continue to operate services that generate substantial annual loss as this would ultimately impact our ability to provide services elsewhere.

“We have alerted both the local authority and the school to our decision and the financial pressures that have led to it. Unfortunately, neither are in a position to offer support to retain the bus which means we will be unable to restart the service in September for the new academic year.”