New operators lessen Local Link loss in Torbay

Two new operators replaced parts of Local Link’s Torbay network from 3 April after the independent quit local services, citing rising costs and falling concessionary pass reimbursement (Buses April).

Torbay Buses — set up by private hire business Torbay Minibuses — took on six of Local Link’s 14 vehicle workings covering routes 25 (Torbay section), 62, 64 (truncated), 108/109, SB1-6 and TC1. Some vehicles and drivers also transferred. ‘Fare-paying bus routes are a new venture for us and we hope this will become a growing and successful part of our business,’ it says.

Community led not-for-profit operator OurBus — run by Torbay Community Development Trust — provides a single vehicle on a reduced service 60, started after Torbay Council said it ‘generously offered a favourable concessionary fare agreement to the new provider, without which the service would not be able to run’.

Last year, Local Link briefly axed that route — described as a lifeline — after its concessionary fares settlement was cut by £115,000 but protests led to a payment of £60,000 for it to be reinstated for 12 months.

Devon County Council is supporting a single-vehicle new Country Bus service 125 (Stoke Gabriel-Paignton-Marldon) and new Saturday Marldon services on Stagecoach route 13.

However, some areas of Torquay have been left without bus services, while some direct links with Torbay Hospital, a retail park and two grammar schools remain lost. Ian Doggett, a Liberal Democrat member of the unitary Torbay Council, says: ‘Sadly, thanks to central government’s failure to keep up with the cost of concessionary fares, we now end up with fewer bus services covering fewer areas.’

The council no longer supports any bus services, but says it is continuing to work with operators in an effort to fill gaps in the network.