Decision Maker: Officer Decision
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Since 31st March 2019, the Council has subsidised the operation of Service 4 on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes on an 18 month experimental basis. The service serves the Felixstowe Road corridor and the Broke Hall area and the officer decision form of 25th January 2019 provides further background on the reasons for this.
A service subsidy agreement was signed with First Eastern Counties Buses Ltd for the provision of the service, which operates with an hourly frequency, and followed a competitive tendering exercise carried out on the Council’s behalf by Suffolk County Council (SCC). The experimental period runs up to and including 27th September 2020 and as such a decision now needs to be made as to whether to continue with the provision of the service.
Excepting the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic on the usage of all bus services, the service is considered to have been sufficiently well used to justify continued funding by the Council for a further 2 year period. In order to obtain ‘best value’, the Council asked SCC to carry out another tendering exercise for the provision of this service.
The results of the tendering exercise have now been received and the Council has decided to enter into a service subsidy agreement with Ipswich Buses Ltd to operate the service on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes at a cost of £11,962 per annum on the grounds that their bid was the lowest of those received. The new service subsidy agreement is due to take effect from Sunday 4th October 2020 in order to avoid any break in service provision, but this will depend on the outcome of an application to the Traffic Commissioner for a Short Notice Dispensation, and if is this not granted then it may be necessary to extend the existing service subsidy agreement for a short period of no longer than 2 months.
The main alternative option would be not to subsidise the service in question. Whilst there is a financial cost to the Council of subsidising bus services which has to be taken into account, in this case the Council’s policies on encouraging the use of sustainable transport are considered to justify the subsidy for a further 2 year period. The service subsidy agreement will include a 3 month break clause so that, if circumstances change, the Council is not obligated to provide the level of subsidy for the entire period.
(1) In accordance with the Transport Act 1985, to enter into a Service Subsidy Agreement with Ipswich Buses Ltd to operate bus Service 4 on an hourly timetable on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes, from 4th October 2020 to 25th September 2022 inclusive but subject to the Council being able to withdraw from the agreement with 3 months notice.
(2) In the event that a Short Notice Dispensation cannot be obtained from the Traffic Commissioner to allow the start date referred to above for the new Service Subsidy Agreement with Ipswich Buses Ltd then to seek and enter into a short extension (of no more than 2 months) of the existing Service Subsidy Agreement with First Eastern Counties Buses.
Publication date: 02/09/2020
Date of decision: 19/08/2020