Unhelpful in fight against cuts

A Travelsure bus
A Travelsure bus

Response to Mr Wylde column in the Northumberland Gazette on March 13.

Cuts and reductions to our local bus services have been an ongoing issue in Northumberland for a few years now and the staff at Travelsure have fought against these cuts at every opportunity, not just for our own sake but also for the local community as we have first-hand experience of the necessity of these services for our passengers.

We were horrified to read Mr Wylde’s column in last week’s paper where he has used our company as an example of ‘people who do not care’ when it comes to the running of local services.

We operate a number of services in the Northumberland area and have had to battle with rising costs, including fuel prices and the continuous need to upgrade our fleet and equipment.

Yet our income on these services is decreasing due to the reduction in concessionary reimbursement, a freeze in price increases and most recently a 20 per cent reduction in our fuel duty rebate return.

During this time, we have not made any reduction to the services we operate and have fought for additional runs including the 471 service.

We have been portrayed by Mr Wylde as having a ‘slapdash’ approach to providing information.

We would like to point out that all timetables operated by Travelsure in the Northumberland area are contracted by Northumberland County Council and we have no access to bus-stop timetables, although we do liaise with the council regarding information provided at these stops.

We are very aware of the need to promote services and we have two offices (open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm, Saturday) where our staff are available to answer any service queries.

Our timetables are available on our website and on the buses.

We would like to point out that the bus photographed in Mr Wylde’s column has not operated on the route displayed for more than three months.

When this photograph was taken, the bus was parked up in the bus bays at the back of the Alnwick bus station.

At the time, the bus was not in service but was off-duty until it operated the 470 school run.

The board at the front advertises the 470 service.

I have read Mr Wylde’s article a number of times and have not yet understood the point of it. Was it to challenge local cuts, protest against the high-speed train service or has he used it as an excuse to have a go at the local bus companies?

Surely when writing such articles a journalist has a duty to get their facts correct, yet Mr Wylde made no effort to contact the companies he is condemning for their comments on the issues raised or cuts being made.

Had he done so, his article could have portrayed a more accurate picture of the issues and challenges bus companies are facing to provide a local bus service.

With the ongoing threats to local bus services and talk of service cuts, surely such articles only hinder efforts made by companies, passengers and the council to justify the operation of these local rural services.

There are a number of passengers who rely on such services to get to work, visit family/friends or to get to the shops.

Perhaps, in future, Mr Wylde could help promote the necessity of local services for such passengers rather than providing further opportunities to cut these services.