Saving cancelled bus services- including Peterborough routes- puts budget pressure on Combined Authority
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The move, which was labelled “unacceptable” by Mayor Nik Johnson, saw the 23 and 24 services between the city centre and Lynchwood and the 29- which links Hampton and the city hospital cancelled in Peterborough.
All services have now been retendered to other operators but this has caused the costs of supported bus services to rise by £1.7m for the final five months of the year. This represents a 50 percent overspend on the £3.4m annual budget.
Combined Authority documents now suggest that delivering the entire network for 2023-24 would cost an estimated £7m, which is double the planned budget of £3.5m
This could rise further, however, given that high inflation carries an increased risk of further service withdrawals by operators.
Budget documents state: “The unprecedented pressures arising from supported bus routes have resulted in a potential impact which cannot be met within the existing resources while maintaining a balanced position over the medium term.
"Following the withdrawal of the incumbent operator from a raft of supported bus services, citing unmanageable increases in costs from fuel and petrol alongside cuts in government grant funds, the Combined Authority had to undertake an emergency re-procurement of these routes to avoid significant hardship on residents who rely on them to engage with society.
“To deliver the existing network for the whole of 2023-24 would cost an estimated £7m, double the planned budget of £3.5m.
“This is subject to significant uncertainty both from a funding side, as Central Government grants and policy is as-yet unconfirmed, and in terms of costs, as increased high inflation means there is the prospect of potential further withdrawal of routes by existing operators.”
The overview and scrutiny committee has been asked to note the unfunded budget pressure at its next meeting on Monday (November 28).