Rallying call from bus operator as Fylde bus service is reduced

Coastal Coaches bus - No 78 service from St Annes to Wesham
Coastal Coaches bus - No 78 service from St Annes to Wesham

A bus operator is telling passengers to contact their local councillors and ask that a Fylde service is subsidised – after announcing its frequency is to be halved because of financial pressures.

From Monday, February 18, the 78 service, which links St Annes and Wesham via Ansdell, Lytham, Warton, Freckleton and Kirkham, will switch from half hourly to hourly.

Operator Coastal Coaches, which is also hiking fares by at least 10p, claims rising operating costs, combined with fewer people using the route, have prompted 
the changes.

Partner Bill Holder said: “We cannot operate a profitable service at a half hourly frequency without help in the form of subsidy from Lancashire County Council.

“Over the last few years operators of rural bus services have come under increasing financial pressure.

“County councils nationwide have withdrawn bus subsidies, new replacement vehicle costs have risen by approximately 30per cent along with increases in insurance for vehicles and rising wage and fuel costs.

“Smaller operators have either had to sell out to the big four national operators, who then scrap those less profitable routes, reduce route lengths or frequency, or leave the sector altogether.

“The 78 service operates in areas no other operator is willing to service but profit levels have dropped dramatically over the past two to three years as LCC subsidies for evening and Sunday operation have been withdrawn and operation costs have increased. We cannot operate a profitable service at a half hourly frequency without help in the form of subsidy.

“Those who feel that the changes in the 78 service will affect their ability to get to their destinations at the times required should rally support from their local councillors for this service to be subsidised.”

A county council spokesman said: “Most of the services we support link areas that would otherwise not have any public transport, with the vast majority operating no more frequently than once every hour.

“Funding through the planning process supports earliest and latest journeys on the 78, however the rest of the service is operated by Coastal Coaches on a commercial basis.”