Off the buses

I find Mr Greenhalgh’s reasoning, if one can call it that, for proposing closure of the Groundwell Park and Ride odd.

We either make savings where we can or we put up council tax.

That didn’t seem to cross your mind when you voted to put up your own allowances.

While the park and ride is an excellent service we are losing a lot of money because it is simply not covering its costs.

Until last year, Thamesdown Transport ran the park and ride bus service for a fee and Swindon Borough Council kept the profit or suffered the loss, depending on how successful the service was. Then that was changed so that, like any other bus service, the bus company runs the services that are profitable and keeps the profit from them, whilst the council subsidises the loss making ones. As parking in the park-and-ride car park is free, the council have, of their own choice, changed the funding arrangement to one where by definition they are guaranteed to make a loss and the bus company guaranteed to make a profit. It doesn’t cover its costs because you’ve set-up contractual arrangements that guarantee that, Mr Greenhalgh.

The number using the service is not that great so I don’t think the effect on traffic will be huge.

That seems to contradict the assessment in the council’s own budget proposals.

“There is some risk that this proposal may impact on our Local Transport Plan assessment and the ability of the Council to secure regional/national funding for future transport schemes. There may also be some impact on general bus network as the operator will lose profit from these services.”

Translated from public sector bureaucracy-speak, that’s quite huge.

We have good parking facilities in the town centre and while this is not an ideal situation it is something we have to look at.

And I’m sure that the knowledge that you’ll make much more money from charging them to park there had no influence on your decision….

This would not be a permanent move and hopefully there will be a change in government and Swindon will be given the kind of funding it needs.

To quote from the council’s own budget proposals again.

“This proposal may impact on our Local Transport Plan assessment and the ability of the Council to secure regional/national funding for future transport schemes.”

Regardless of the colour of the government, a habit of abandoning facilities in an ill considered financial panic is hardly a way of encouraging government to spend taxpayers’ money here.