If Stagecoach Can't Deliver Bus Services for Folkestone & Hythe, Let's Find Someone Who Can

8 Sep 2023
Tim Prater on bus

There has been real anger across Folkestone and Hythe this week following a Stagecoach change of timetables that has seen services cut, other services with early and late buses removed, and many even timetabled services cancelled entirely or badly delayed.

Lib Dem Councillor Tim Prater is determined to get changes. He says:

"The story has been developing for months, but the new timetables only came into force last weekend (not that you'd know - apparently it will take them a MONTH to update them on bus stops). I challenged them on this early this week.

"Buses here are run by Stagecoach, a company, commissioned and in places subsidised by Kent County Council who are the transport authority. The District Council do not control local bus services, but have been forcefully making the point, for months, that we thought the proposed changes were terrible and offering to work with them to seek to save services. They didn't take up that offer.

"By happy coincidence, I and others have a meeting with Stagecoach and Kent County Council on Monday. I, at least, will be making the point that their timetable changes are a shitshow.

"They've left some unable to get to and from work, others with real hardship getting to school, and some services cut beyond the point of usefulness leaving people stranded in their own homes. In many instances, even the remaining timetabled services have been cancelled or delayed. Its all been exacerbated by closing the Folkestone Kent Road bus depot - a move which I can't see saves them much money, but means all buses return to Ashford or Dover each night, which is nonsensical (fuel, staff time, time for drivers to get there). I will make these points with all my renowned tact and diplomacy.

"When Stagecoach shrug and tell us they can't afford to do better, I will also be asking Kent County Council what the process is for removing a bus franchise from an existing operator and awarding it to someone else. There aren't loads of potential alternatives, but its certainly beyond time we had a look at the options.

"Personally, I don't understand why buses are private companies rather than a local service, run without the profit margin in mind, but concentrating on the best possible service instead. However, that's Government decision: above my paygrade. We should however be able to look at whether this specific operator is delivering an acceptable service for Folkestone & Hythe. I suspect many of us would have a view on that."

Larry Ngan and Lib Dem Campaigners on The Leas, Folkestone

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Larry Ngan, Daniel and Fry with "Build More Houses" t-shirt on The Leas, Folkestone

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