A bus operator who recently celebrated the launch of several new services in Wrexham have moved to cease local services in early in September.
Budget provider easyCoach took over four services in Wrexham on June 27th, with the promise of cheaper fares for local customers.
Now in a surprise move the company has moved to cancel its services locally from September 9th.
This lunchtime we asked Wrexham Council if they had any notice of the withdrawal, and if there were any contingency plans in place.
With the Skiers Lodge Limited – who operate easyBus and easyCoach locally – being unveiled in February as having been awarded a three year contract to operate the public information office in the bus station on behalf of Wrexham Council, we enquired if that deal was affected by the news today.
We also asked if any current or planned school bus services in Wrexham were or have been affected by the news.
Cllr David A Bithell, Lead Member for Environment and Transport replied: “The Council has been notified by the operator of the 2, 2D, 42 and 44 bus services that they will cease commercially-operated services in Wrexham with effect from September 9.
“These services are operated on a commercial basis with no subsidy support from Wrexham Council. Discussions are taking place with other local bus operators to see if they are willing to operate these services on a commercial basis.
“We have been advised that the existing contract with the operator to run the information/enquiry office at the Bus Station will continue.” (the opening in April pictured below)
“No schools contracts are affected”.
Borras Councillor Debbie Wallice has said of the closure of services: “This is to include Service 44, the route they currently run alongside Valentines Coaches that serves Borras Park. Discussions are currently taking place with other local bus operators to see if they are willing to take over Service 44.
“At this current moment in time, I believe Valentines Coaches (Town Link 1) will continue to serve Borras Park using their original time table. It’s goes without saying that I’m extremely disappointed and I’ll be working with WCBC to see if another bus service is willing to take over.”
On the 10th of July we queried Wrexham Council regarding alleged issues with some of the local bus fleet, and asked if the Council were aware of any problems.
Cllr Bithell briefly said at the time the ‘DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) monitor compliance of bus and road transport services’, and there was no indication the council were aware – or unaware of any alleged issues.
Today Cllr Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru’s group leader on Wrexham Council, has published an internal Council email he sent several days after our query in July, that references an information ‘report’ that is not public.
Cllr Jones has also issued a statement alongside a copy of the email: “This is another blow for public transport in Wrexham. Bus services remain patchy at best and that’s because funding for bus services has been frozen by this Welsh Government for many years while fuel and wages have increased.
“Bus de-regulation has happened throughout the UK with the exception of London, where more than half the population travel to work every day by public transport under democratic control.
“That’s clearly a system that works. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that Wales has the same kind of ownership of public transport so that it serves people better than this current privatised, under-subsidised hell.”
Today’s news is the latest service problem to hit Wrexham’s bus network, which has seen the loss of two major providers in the past three years alone.
The latest public operator information on the cancelled registrations for the Skiers Lodge can be found below, generated by this vehicle operator licence search.