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Use or lose community bus service, residents warned
RESIDENTS in the west end of Darlington have been told they must be prepared to use or lose a new bus service.
After successfully bidding for £50,000 funding from Darlington Borough Council, The Pink bus, which is a joint project by the West End Partnership, eVOLution and Scarlet Band, will operate in the west end in the New Year when subsidised services come to an end.
The funding from the council was provided by the government to help community groups set up local bus services, and will pay for the start-up and operating costs for the first two years.
However no more funding will be provided after that, and those behind the service have told residents they must use and pay for the service if it is to survive.
At a recent meeting of the West End Partnership Councillor Charles Johnson, ward member for Hummersknott and a key player in securing the funding for the service, said the bus must be financially viable if it is to survive.
He said: “If at the end of the two years the service does not operate as a standalone business it will most certainly finish.
“There will be no more debates and no more opportunities to get more money.”
Although no funding methods have been put in place yet, a recent survey showed 60 per cent of residents would be willing to pay for the service to keep it running.
Another method discussed was for users to pay full fare for at least one in every three journeys, even if they were eligible for a free bus pass – more than 50 people who attended the meeting said they would be prepared to do this.
Coun Johnson added: “It is up to the people of the west end to make sure we turn it into a sustainable service.”
The hourly bus will be a hail and ride service, as well as using the current number 16 Scarlet Band route.
A representative from the bus company said where possible, and if the need is great enough, the route could be slightly adjusted.
Anybody with any route suggestions is asked to send them to Coun Johnson at 40 Caedmon Crescent, Darlington, DL3 8LF by the end of October.
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