All Plymouth Citybus services under review in timetable shake-up
SWEEPING changes could be made to city bus services as part of a timetable shake-up, The Herald can reveal.
All 40-plus Plymouth Citybus services are under review by the company as it prepares to overhaul its schedules.
Chief executive Richard Stevens, who took on the job last month, said: "Some of my timetables simply aren't do-able."
But he reassured passengers that routes were not likely to be scrapped as part of the changes.
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Mr Stevens was speaking as Citybus officially confirmed a U-turn on plans to axe school buses.
The Herald revealed on Monday how the firm was reversing its decision to scrap eight schoolday services from July.
Citybus had planned the cuts due to rising fuel costs and the withdrawal of school travel subsidy funding by Plymouth City Council.
Parents reacted with outrage, fearing their children would have to endure long and costly journeys.
But eight of the 14 threatened services are now set to continue, while the remaining six are regarded as having adequate alternative bus services for pupils.
Mr Stevens, who was appointed Citybus chief executive in May, said the services were not profitable.
But he said: "When I first arrived here it was clear this was the number one transport issue in the city.
"I looked at the decision again and came to the view that you can get these things to break even.
"I see it not as a loss-leader but as an investment in the city. The school buses form an integral part of my intentions for this company.
"You have to listen to people. We don't have a right to customers – we have to earn them."
The council sold Citybus to transport giant Go-Ahead for £20million in 2009. Job losses were announced the following month, and last year several loss-making routes were axed.
Go-Ahead made an operating profit of £51.7million for the six months to the end of 2011, as Citybus bosses considered fare hikes to offset rocketing fuel costs.
But Mr Stevens said the latest review was aimed at maximising each vehicle's usability.
Full details of the 'revision' of routes are being kept under wraps, but changes are expected to come into force following public consultation in September.
Mr Stevens added: "I'm setting about changing all our services to make sure they're achieving.
"I want to look people in the eye and say I'm proud of this company so I'm listening and I'm seeking feedback from all quarters on what the needs of the city are.
"Hopefully what will unfold will be exciting, dynamic and a high-quality transport network we can be proud of."
Asked if the changes could lead to a loss of routes, Mr Stevens replied: "I don't think so, no."
Councillor Nicky Williams, Cabinet member for children and young people, said dozens of angry parents had complained about the proposed school bus cuts.
"This comes as an enormous relief to a lot of families," she said. "I think it's a signal of Citybus' good will and positive intentions."