Having already trimmed services at peak times last month, the Arriva Bus Company has just announced that its services that directly link Southborough with Bromley will end in July, unless it can get further Kent County Council funding.
Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn, which is the massive nationalised rail operator for all of Germany.
The route news was combined with new fare rises. The all day bus travel ticket popular in Southborough will rise by 8 per cent from £ 4.80 a day to £ 5.20 a day.
Meanwhile, drivers remain unclear how services will be operated in the area once the firm’s Tunbridge Wells depot is sold for development in a few months time.
Arriva’s statement said: “Arriva has been operating the 402 service between Tunbridge Wells and Bromley via Sevenoaks for many years. The service was previously reviewed back in 2011 and was deemed to be below viable patronage levels at this time, however Arriva agreed to delay any cuts to the service and explore the calls for service demand, which were expressed during the consultation process. Sadly 6 years on, the service remains under-utilised between Bromley and Dunton Green, and the Sevenoaks Weald loop, and as a result is unfortunately not commercially viable; these parts of the route will cease to operate from Sunday 23rd July, 2017. Arriva will retain and operate the 402 service between Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells”.
The statement concludes: “Arriva will continue to consult closely with Kent County Council, as the council may decide to review whether the service meets their criteria for support as a socially necessary service”.
Several bus users reacted to the latest bus news with dismay. Clare Wetz wrote on Facebook: “I’m regularly now waiting up to 30 mins for a bus. They also now leave stops early, meaning larger gaps in the service. Combined with high fares, It’s no surprise passenger numbers are dwindling!”
Jeanette White wrote: “Just think, if all fares were a £1 anywhere any length of journey, so many more people would use the buses and they would make so much more money. Rather than run a bus that has one passenger on it paying £ 4.50, you could have a FULL bus of passengers paying £ 1 each!”
It has also been revealed that the”shopper hopper” fare from town to Sainsburys that was a £1 to use all day is now going to be £2.50 return.
Another factor irritating passengers is that the time allowed in the timetable for some journeys is now up to three times the actual time the journey takes. This means buses have to sit at stops for 5-10 mins waiting for their allotted departure times.
The evening 402 is timetabled to take 25 mins to travel from Tonbridge Castle to the Arriva depot in Tunbridge Wells (from 2047 to 2113), when it would normally take less than ten minutes to cover the route at that time of the evening.
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