Free trial to replace Penair school bus

A firm is to start a free one-week trial of a school bus service in Cornwall after another firm axed its service.

From Monday, OTS will operate a 29 seater coach on the 82A route from Stithians to Penair School, which First said was no longer economic.

OTS said it wanted to help out while talks were held on subsidising the service used by students.

The trial service will be free, but passengers will be asked for donations.

Ben Moore, transport manager at OTS, warned that the service would only make financial sense with a subsidy from Cornwall Council.

He said the firm's 29-seater coach was full and there were three children on a waiting list.

"It's up to Cornwall Council to get its act together and stop children being stranded," he said.

"I would say about £50 a day would do it. That's not the end of the world."

Cornwall councillor Neil Plummer said he would be pressing the authority on providing concessionary funding for the new service.

He said: "If they were paying a concession on the old service, then there is presumably free money to transfer."

Simon Newport, network manager for First in the South West and Wales, said the route had been axed after Cornwall Council reduced the amount it reimbursed First for each concessionary passenger fare.

"It meant we had a reduction in revenue and 30 students on a double decker bus does not pay for the whole service," he said.

The council provided support for about 65% of bus services in Cornwall in 2010/11 at a cost of more than £4.7m.

The amount of subsidy will fall by about £1m by 2013/14, according to the council, which is in the second year of a four year plan to save £170m from its budget.

Mr Newport said in a letter to parents on Friday that the firm would be arranging a combination of services 88 and 85 to take children to the school.

"This in no way can replace the bespoke service that you were used to previously," he said.

"Please accept my sincerest apologies for the distress and inconvenience caused to you as a result of the change to this service and for our shortcomings in communicating this effectively to our customers and the school."

OTS said the move would not affect its plans for a trial run starting on Monday.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites