A COUNCILLOR is demanding answers from Stagecoach after the bus operator announced plans to cut its route nine service from Hatch Warren and Beggarwood into town.

Councillor Stephen Reid, who represents Hatch Warren and Beggarwood both at district and county leve, saud: “The route is a wholly commercial route and was introduced by Stagecoach in January this year. It was their idea to put in on. Now they are planning to stop it.

“Stagecoach say that revenue growth has been insufficient to make Route 9 commercially viable and therefore they will withdraw the service in December, after less than a year.

“I want to know why they got their forecasts so wrong. Why have they not been able to make a success of the route? Why are they stopping the service so quickly, rather than marketing it and encouraging more people to use it? Have they thought about the thousands of new homes planned for the west of Basingstoke?

“Stagecoach has been Basingstoke’s principal bus operator for decades. It should know the town and its requirements by now and be able to make better commercial judgements than this.

“Not only that, it enjoys huge subsidies from the County Council and even more from the Borough.

“The introduction and then axing of Route 9 looks like poor decision-making that lets Basingstoke down.

“I will press for a meeting with Stagecoach. I have long been of the opinion that the company needs to change its approach. Many of its current routes are based on those that ran sixty years ago.

“I believe we need a radical re-think of how bus services are organised in Basingstoke. It is archaic that so many routes still run to a ‘hub and spokes’ pattern. There should be more radial routes, meeting up with quick and direct routes into town.

“In my opinion, Stagecoach has failed to rise to the challenge posed by the clustering of doctors’ surgeries. Radial routes could link them, but I see nothing of this nature being proposed.

“Unless they rise to the challenge of offering a modern and responsive network of routes, I am of the opinion that we should not plough more and more public money into Stagecoach. Instead we should seek different operators with fresh thinking.”