The future of the Ludlow Kidderminster bus service is… (we don’t know – updated)

Update 29 March 2018

I met Shropshire Council’s Transport Commissioning Manager for Passenger Transport yesterday afternoon to discuss the future of the Ludlow to Kidderminster bus service. He was as perplexed by the events surrounding a replacement service for the 2L as anyone but gave assurances that a peak hour service will operate between Ludlow and Cleobury come what may.

The bus service is being retendered due to the end of the contract with Diamond Bus. The tendering is led by Worcestershire County Council. Shropshire Council agree to continue contributing £37,000 a year to subsidise the route between Cleobury Mortimer to Ludlow to run on the present timetable. Since then, our council has not been involved in the tendering and officers are surprised by the turn of events. They could not explain why a contract for an off-peak weekday service only had been agreed. However, all is not lost.

Worcestershire County Council is currently trying to find a contractor for the hours not covered by the R&B 292 timetable (R&B timetable.) We are hoping to hear today, Friday, that the matter has been resolved.

Shropshire Council is committed to maintaining a peak hours service on the route. If no contractor is forthcoming to provide an adequate service alongside the R&B timetable, the council will step in and ensure a service is running. It will do this at short notice if necessary.

I feel confident after the meeting that we will have a continuing service after 15 April and I hope to hear the details today.

One other matter raised by concerned residents and the college is the future of student passes. Many will have purchased a pass (season ticket) with Diamond. These passes will be valid on the replacement bus service, no matter who is running it.

Original article 28 March 2018

We councillors have been concerned about the fate of the 2L Ludlow to Kidderminster bus service for some time. So have passengers, who have been raising concerns with us for weeks.

Plans for the future of the route are still a mess and I don’t know why matters haven’t been resolved. This is where we are at the moment (early morning 28 March).

Clee Hill based R&B have been contracted to run services in the middle of the day. Buses leave Kidderminster at 8.30, 10.30, 12.30 and 14.30, arriving in Ludlow at 28 minutes past the hour. Buses leave Ludlow at 9.30, 11.30, 13.30 and 15.30. R&B Timetable.

I understand R&B have a fairly new Optare for the service (this is the same model as usually operated by Minsterley Motors for Ludlow town buses). It is welcome that the length of the journey has been reduced from 87 minutes to 58 minutes.

I have a nagging concern that the R&B timetable is too tight for this route with just a two minute turnaround at each end. It will run fine in good weather with no roadworks but we don’t see those conditions on the A4117 and A456 often.

Clearly the planned service is useless for school and college students and workers. The arrangement had been for Diamond to run earlier and later services. But for reasons that are far from clear, this seems to have fallen through.

Shropshire Council pays a subsidy for the journey between Cleobury Mortimer and Ludlow. Cleobury to Kidderminster is subsidised by Worcestershire County Council, which manages the bus contracts for the route.

Our position in Shropshire is that the agreement with Worcestershire council is for the service to continue using the current (Diamond) timetable. Of course, there would be no objections to changes that benefit the passengers and communities the route serves. But Shropshire seems to have been kept in the dark about current developments.

Urgent discussions are being held between the two councils. More will take place today. We hope that the problem will have been resolved, but I am not holding my breath. However, Shropshire Council is looking at contingency arrangements to put in place in the event nothing can be resolved from the Worcestershire end.

I have asked for a meeting with officers in Shirehall today. I’ll update on what I know at the end of the day.