A TAXI-BUS service in Hook will be scaled down because it is not being well used – and it is under threat of being stopped altogether.
The scheme, paid for by villagers through Hook Parish Council, started in February as a six-month trial in response to bus timetable changes by operator Stagecoach.
However, Councillor Mandy Butler told the latest parish council meeting that not as many villagers are using the service as she would have hoped.
The low numbers mean each passenger trip is costing the parish council £50 – and £6,840 of the project’s £8,000 budget has been used up already.
Cllr Butler, who organised the scheme, said: “Basically, there is no way that it is paying its way.
“I have been talking to Hampshire County Council who said it would be a shame if it is stopped – but unless somebody comes up with some money, then it will.”
The Hook Taxi Bus scheme, managed by village-firm Capital Cars, currently runs eight times a day and six days a week. The route connects homes in the eastern end of the village, such as the Holt Park estate, to the railway station.
The estate was left with limited public transport when the number 10 bus service was axed in October 2011 after the county council slashed £2million from its bus subsidy target.
Cllr Robert Leppard said: “I am very disappointed that this has not got off the ground. Are we reaching the point where we say no (more)?”
But Cllr Gordon Winter said a similar scheme run by Hartley Wintney Parish Council had few users at first but is now considered successful.
Members agreed to give notice to customers and the traffic commissioner to cut the service to three days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday – and three times a day.
After the vote, Cllr Iain Chalmers, chairman of the parish council, told Cllr Butler: “Regardless of how it fares, I do not think it should detract from the work that you have done. If you do not try these things, you will never know how they are going to work.”