THE Connect2 RUH bus service, also known as the ‘Hopper’, could be scaled back or stopped completely next summer, as Wiltshire Council prepares to stop funding the bus.
The council has begun a public consultation on the effects of cuts to the service, after the announcement that it would no longer contribute £130,000 per year to running costs.
The survey explains that if funding can be found, the service could continue to be run on a less frequent basis and charge around 50% more for tickets. A £10.80 return from Melksham could be raised more than £5 and cost £16.20, or £12 for concessionary bus pass holders.
However, if no funding is secured, the service will stop completely after April next year.
Independent councillors Jeff and Helen Osborn have been active in campaigning to save the bus.
In a recent letter the couple said, “When it comes to increasing charges we are strongly opposed. A considerable number of Hopper users go to the RUH a number of times a week. Any increase would make the cost prohibitive for them and cause them not to use the Hopper.
“Hence, we urge all those who value the Hopper to robustly object to this proposal. It goes without saying that we are also categorically opposed to the total curtailing of the Hopper service. We sincerely hope that the wider public adopts a similar stance. The only way the vital Hopper service can be saved is by local people showing the strength of their feelings.”
The councillors urge members of the public to contact their local councillors, MP, sign the online petition, and respond to the council’s consultation.
An online petition signed by nearly 2,000 people helped to secure funding for the service until April next year, but the council cannot continue to pay for the service.
Wiltshire Council’s consultation, which runs until Friday 27th November, asks for people’s views on the two possible outcomes for the service.
One option is that, if funding support is secured, the service will run 16 times per day (it currently runs 22 times) and prices will be raised by roughly 50%.
The second scenario is that if funding is not secured, the service will stop entirely from some time after April 2016.
Wiltshire Council’s survey asks whether individuals would find each scenario “acceptable”, what they would do if there was no Hopper bus, and if they have any ideas or solutions to help the service continue.
The Connect2 service, known as the Hopper, offers a minibus pick-up and drop off service for people across the county to travel to the RUH. It offers a safer and more convenient alternative to public transport.
To read more about the proposed changes and have your say go to Wiltshire Council’s website via www.tinyurl.com/qyqgrbu.
Independent councillor for Melksham Without, Terry Chivers, has started a new petition to oppose the proposed changes, as the service is now under threat once more. He stresses that even if people signed a previous petition, the new one needs to be signed as well, to prevent the latest possible changes to the service. To sign, find the petition named ‘RUH Hopper’ online at you.38degrees .org.uk.