Plymouth Citybus implement post-Covid recovery plan

2 years ago Tue 5th Apr 2022

Today, (5th April 2022) Plymouth Citybus Management advised customers of changes to the Plymouth Bus Operation that form part of a multistep recovery plan commencing on 10th April 2022.

Along with many other organisations, the company is facing significant headwinds in terms of increasing costs and stagnant demand supressing revenue. Fare paying passengers are currently at 80% and free concession passengers at 60% of pre-Covid levels.

The company explained that, as with all bus operators, it has been in receipt of Government funding that was only paying for capacity to meet social distancing requirements. Now that the Government requirement for social distancing has been removed, the funding that was maintaining the network at pre-Covid levels is now being phased out.

The company has responded by developing a recovery plan that will secure as much of the existing network as possible, matching timetables to current demand levels. The company knows this will not be pain free as the only actions available are to increase prices and reduce service levels in areas with insufficient demand to cover the cost of operation.

Therefore, on 10th April 2022, prices across the network will increase by an average of 8%, (the first fare increase since Autumn 2019); to try and aid families the popular add a child for £1.50 ticket has been frozen.

Additionally, on the 10th of April 2022, the previously announced frequency changes to services 8/9, along with changes to services into Cornwall take effect. With the ensuing reduction to Torpoint services, the 33 timetable has been rerouted via Ford Hill to maintain a half hourly service to Stoke via Wilton Street.

The next step in the recovery plan takes effect at the end of the school holidays from 24th April 2022.

From this date changes to the network will affect the 5/5A which will operate between Royal Parade and Plymstock only; with the section between Royal Parade and Saltash being withdrawn.

There are changes to the way Southway is served, with reductions to service 41, the withdrawal of service 40 and then the provision of new journey solutions, through enhancements to services 42 and 42A.

The 42 and 42A will provide four buses an hour from Southway, operating via Looseleigh Lane or the George Junction to Derriford before continuing to Royal Parade. Additionally, a revised service 41 will run hourly to Mayflower Street, providing services to Sir John Hunt school. 

The company is working with Plymouth City Council to finalise the next steps of the recovery plan that are anticipated to be implemented in September 2022.

Richard Stevens, Managing Director of Plymouth Citybus, said: “It is hard to see any good news in the steps we have been forced to take; in truth, they could have been much worse. As a company we have minimised the impact of the current situation the bus industry finds itself in, by absorbing as many costs as possible. This is a vital reset of our operation, that will provide a platform for reliable service delivery and an opportunity to grow back over coming years.

"It is no secret that our operational delivery has been severely challenged over recent months, I am hugely grateful for the patience and support our customers have shown and the valiant efforts of my team. I am personally devastated that people who rely on our services will have to shoulder the consequences of our Covid recovery in this way.

"With no further funding available, this is the only viable way forward; these changes are implemented with a heavy heart, I am sincerely sorry for the impact this may have on people’s lives.”