Bus operator hits out after Wellingborough service scrapped

The W4 bus route which serves the town centre is set to be axed next month.
The W4 bus route which serves the town centre is set to be axed next month.

The operator of a bus route in Wellingborough which is to be axed next month says it is not its fault the decision was announced at such short notice.

Last week the Northants Telegraph reported on a resident’s dismay after the W4 route in the town was earmarked for closure by Meridian on December 5.

A spokesman for the county council confirmed this was due to it no longer being commercially viable.

But Derek Taylor, general manager of Britannia Bus – which also trades under the name Meridian – said: “In June 2014 the council contract for the service ceased, for a reason that is not known.

“It’s been loss-making since day one but we thought we could turn it around and make a profit.

“We’re now 16 months down the line and that is clearly not the case, and we kept the council informed that we were looking to de-register it a month ago.

“We’ve estimated that we’ve saved the taxpayer £93,000 by running the service commercially and we asked for a fraction of that back but they declined.

“The council have known all about it but we’ve not been in a position to tell anyone that the service would be cut because of their communications with us.

“We’ve been left in a bit of a no-win situation and now the decision has been announced just a few weeks before the service ends.”

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said the Traffic Commissioners regulatory body, which is responsible for the registration of local bus services, had to approve the decision to end the service and nothing could be announced before this was done.

The timing of the announcement was nothing to do with the county council, the spokesman said.