Back in March, Stagecoach in Swindon and Thamesdown Transport started making noises about planned cuts in subsidy from Swindon Borough Council, bemoaning the dire effect it would have on evening and Sunday services. At the time I listed all the council subsidised bus services that might be effected, 11 in total. In April, both companies were still complaining. The council reinstated funding to just one service — the number 24 that runs through the resolutely blue-voting Lawns area.
The end result? Has there been a decimation of evening and Sunday services? No. In fact, not much change at all. The axe has been taken to evening bus services on the No. 11 and No. 19 and… that’s it. With Thamesdown Transport seemingly continuing to run all its other formerly subsidised services on a commercial basis, and Stagecoach now announcing it will do the same, there’s not much change at all. That’ll be no comfort to residents of East Wichel, Pinehurst and Greenmeadow who are now deprived of evening services on the No. 11, nor to those of Eastleaze, Shaw, Nine Elms, Peatmoor and Sparcells who have lost the evening services of the No. 19. But compared with how bad the bus companies were claiming it would be, the damage is very limited.
One could almost be forgiven for wondering whether the bus companies have been taking tax-payer subsidies for years for services that were actually profitable.