Public transport services reviewed

A NUMBER of local bus routes have been reviewed by the local authority as part of their usual re-tendering every three years.

Some routes have been included in a re-tendering exercise to keep in line with the EU. In and around Forfar this includes the Noranside-Forfar-Bogindollo/Brechin (Monday to Friday) route and the Carnoustie-Forfar route.

There were also a number of contracts which were due for re-negotiation. These included Dundee-Forfar-Glamis (Sunday), Forfar-Brechin-Stracathro/Edzell (Monday to Saturday) and Forfar-Brechin (Sunday).

So what does this mean for bus service users?

Before the re-tendering and re-negotiations took place there were ‘rigorous’ consultations with operators, community councils, local council members and the public via the Angus Council website, notices on buses and editorial in the local press.

Eric Lowson, director of infrastructure services, said: “The consultation exercise confirmed that the contracts were meeting the needs of the majority of the users, however, it highlighted that some improvements could be made to the current services to meet additional demands identified and to better serve existing users.

“These changes were, where practical, incorporated into the tenders sought.”

The council received 67 bids for the 26 contracts which were available and those which cost the least were awarded the contracts.

Tenders were sought for the provision of either vehicles which have low floors with a number of features to aid travel or vehicles which are wheelchair accessible.

The criteria for awarding the contracts included subsidy per mile, subsidy per passenger and the percentage of workers using the service.

Mr Lowson said: “Through scoring contracts on this basis, it is possible by adding together the scores for each of the criteria to rank the contracted services which represent highest and lowest value for money.

“In this way service provision can be aligned with the budget available with the poorer performing contracts being considered for withdrawl.”

The tenders which have been proposed is thought to cost around £1,708,275. This means that there is an anticipated shortfall of £117, 633 when compared to last year’s £1,590,642.

Mr Lowson said: “In order to contain expenditure within the 2012/13 budget currently available it would be necessary to withdraw existing local bus service contracts to the shortfall value.

“Unlike previous years where potential contract cost savings could be made by the withdrawl of poorly used journeys, this year no journeys were identified other than those already detailed as part of the renewal exercise.”

He added: “The tenders sought reflect the current usage of the services and the passenger requirements.”

He has recommended to the infrastructure services committee that they should approve the contracts which have been offered.

Mr Lowson concluded: “As the contracted services currently provided by the council are deemed to be socially necessary, any withdrawls will impact significantly on the users of these services.”