Fenland Council hopes it’s second time lucky as bus service - paid for by Tesco - begins daily, six day a week journeys
- Credit: Archant
Councillors are hoping its second time lucky for a community bus service in Wisbech to Tesco in Cromwell Road after the first attempt swallowed up more than £52,000 in subsidies but was still scrapped.
Stagecoach, awarded the contract to run number 66 bus route from Horsefair to Cromwell Road, closed in May last year through lack of support.
Now it’s been re-branded No 68 with the six day a week service being operated by Fenland Area Community Transport (FACT). Fenland Council says it will run as a 12-month pilot scheme.
The service is operating between 9.30am and 6pm and concessionary bus pass holders travel free. Membership of FACT is not necessary.
The route serves many residential areas to the south and northwest of Wisbech which are not covered by other bus services and includes stops close to Tesco, Horsefair, North Cambs Hospital, Rosmini Centre, Thomas Clarkson Academy, Hudson Leisure Centre and Asda.
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Cash for the service launch has come from £350,000 through a section 106 agreement provided by Tesco when they opened their out of town store. The supermarket provided the cash for up to four years to finance a local service but Stagecoach pulled out after falling numbers.
Council officials conducted extensive surveys of local needs and feedback from bus service users before the 66 service was withdrawn revealed what wasn’t working and where improvements could be made.
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It meant the 68 service would not only provide access to Tesco Extra and other businesses in Cromwell Road, but also to local healthcare, education and community facilities, as well as residential parts of South and North-West Wisbech not served by other public transport.
Wisbech mayor Steve Tierney said: “It is great to see a project delivered with such a strong emphasis on local engagement.”
A council spokesman said FACT would collect fares when passengers board, be issued with tickets “and the revenue will ultimately back to FDC”.
The spokesman said that since the service did not start until 9.30am bus pass holders could use it for free all the time.
Passengers who had travelled on the new service since its launch on July 3 were entered into a prize draw to win a luxury hamper from Tesco. The winner was Lucy Moody, of Wisbech.