Bus service out of Ludlow saved in eleventh-hour deal
An 'important' rural bus service set to stop running in a matter of weeks has been saved in a last-minute deal.
Commuters, shoppers and students in the communities between Ludlow and Kidderminster feared being left stranded when it was announced the 292 service was to stop running on January 5.
But Worcestershire County Council today announced a new deal had been struck with previous operator Diamond Bus.
The news has come as a welcome relief to those who live in the rural communities along the route, including Clee Hill, Hopton Wafers and Cleobury Mortimer, which faced being left with no public transport.
Shropshire Councillor Richard Huffer, who represents Clee, said: “Kidderminster is an important shopping centre for many people in Ludlow and Clee.
"Many people also use the service to get to school, college and work.
"Clee, Cleobury Mortimer and many villages would have been cut off from public transport if the service had ended.
"It’s very good news that we will still have a service running between Ludlow and Kidderminster in the New Year."
Councillor Andy Boddington, who represents Ludlow North, said it was vital that Diamond now made improvements to the service, which has faced repeated criticism over delays and cancellations in the year and a half it has been operated by R&B Travel.
"Everyone welcomes the continuation of this important service," he said.
"What we now need to do is to ensure its reliability.
"At the moment, only 58 minutes are allowed for each journey. That’s too short a time for a 30-mile trip over the Clee and through villages and towns.
"The service is always being delayed by weather, roadworks and congestion.
“Drivers only get a two minute turnaround time at each end. That’s not enough for even a comfort break.
“In the New Year, we will be looking at the timetable to see if we can ease this, perhaps by allowing a little longer for each journey.”
It is the second time in as many years the service had come under threat, after Diamond Bus ceased to operate the previous service, the 2L, in April 2018 when Worcestershire County Council withdrew its subsidy.
It was re-tendered to R&B Travel which launched the 292, but in October the company agreed to surrender its licence to the Traffic Commissioner after its directors faced a public inquiry over vehicle maintenance and drivers' hours.
Alan and Lorraine Radnor, who own the Clee-based firm, have paid tribute to their drivers and passengers as they prepare to cease trading.
They said: "We would like to thank all our loyal passengers for their patronage over the years and trust that the new operator treats them well.
"We would also take this opportunity to wish all our dedicated staff, who have turned out in all weathers to provide the service, well in the future."
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