Corby village bus service saved by quarter of a million pound lifeline

Long wait: The bus stops here in Corby town centre
Long wait: The bus stops here in Corby town centre

A rural bus service that serves Corby has been saved - but it’s come at a huge cost to the taxpayer.

The Rutland Flyer, which transported passengers on 127,200 journeys between Corby, Uppingham, Oakham and Melton during 2017/18 was threatened after operator Centrebus pulled out.

They said that the knock-on effect of Northamptonshire County Council bus subsidy cuts had made running Rutland’s most used bus service non-viable, despite the fact it is subsidised by Rutland County Council and not Northants.

Rutland Council had been paying £50,392 per year to subsidise the Flyer and had been on a search for an alternative provider.

The only bid came from Stagecoach Midlands, which said that the cost would be £270,840.

Members at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting agreed to fund the service by paying an additional £220,448 on top of the existing £50,392 budget.

It came after people from Corby staged a protest last week and prospective parliamentary candidate for Corby Beth Miller held a public meeting to talk about the cuts.

As part of the cabinet decision, councillors also challenged officers to explore further options for delivering the service in the most cost-effective way, before the final contract for RF1 is awarded.

Councillor Nick Begy, Portfolio Holder for Transport at Rutland County Council, said: “We recognise how important local transport services are for our residents and have committed to providing increased funding to continue running RF1.

“We also have a duty to manage our budget responsibly and ensure best possible value for public money, so as not to increase pressure on other local services.

“We have received a single bid to operate RF1 which is significantly greater than the amount of money currently set aside in our budget to run the service. We have approved potential expenditure to meet the increased costs but owe it to taxpayers to use the time available to rule out whether there is a more cost-effective way to deliver RF1, before finally awarding the contract.”