Ashwell bus service will continue under emergency contract

The 202 bus goes to Ashwell and Morden station. Picture: Google Street View

The 202 bus goes to Ashwell and Morden station. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

Hertfordshire County Council has awarded an emergency bus contract for the 202 Ashwell station bus route, which will see the “vital service” continue to run from November 19.

The decision to continue the service came after North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald and councillors expressed the concerns of Ashwell residents about the withdrawal of the 202 when the operator, Landmark Coaches, gave notice that service to Ashwell & Morden Station – four miles from the village in the hamlet of Odsey – would be finishing in mid-November.

Sir Oliver said: “I am delighted that the county council have listened to our representations and agreed to continue this vital service for commuters, and I hope that it is well supported to ensure it continues in the future.

“The bus is very important to local people and the notice to terminate in mid-November was a blow.”

It was confirmed last month that the council would go out on tender for a contractor to continue the service and that the future options would be considered again at the end of the financial year.

Last week, Herts County Council awarded the emergency contract, and will be accepting offers from tenders to run the service when the interim contract ends.

A county council spokeswoman said: “We are inviting tenders to run the service after March 2019.

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“Once received, the council will be able to assess the longer-term future of the service based on value for money and affordability in line with its bus policy.

“It is likely that funding will need to be secured from other sources to give the service the best chance of continuing beyond March 2019. A decision will be taken in mid-December.”

Lib Dem district councillor Steve Jarvis said: “While I am very pleased that a temporary contract has been let to keep the service going until next March, I’m concerned that a permanent contract will depend on the service meeting the county council’s ‘value for money’ criteria. It is far from certain that this will happen.

“The county council has agreed a Local Transport Plan to encourage people to use public transport. If this is to mean anything, it needs to commit to finding the money to keep services like this going.

“The Ashwell service is important since there is little safe parking at the station and it encourage people to use the train rather than drive.”