This was the only bus serving the village and though school services pass through, many residents have no bus service to the City.
The 27 was the only bus that served both Canterbury train stations, and there is now no regular bus, outside of University services, that stops outside the mainline Canterbury West Station.
One of the reasons Stagecoach gives for withdrawal of services is reduced funding from KCC.
We believe this service is vital to those unable to walk to alternative routes, vital to the life of our village, and vital to the commercial life of Canterbury.
This ePetition ran from 20/07/2022 to 18/10/2022 and has now finished.
61 people signed this ePetition.
Sent on behalf of David Brazier
Dear Mr Ricketts
Thank you for your recent petition received 18 October 2022, regarding the recent withdrawal of the number 27 bus service through Rough Common.
Bus services throughout the UK, outside London, are provided in a deregulated environment where around 97% of the network is provided by companies such as Stagecoach on a commercial basis for profit. To be clear the recent decision to change or in this instance withdraw a service from Rough Common was made by the bus operator, the Council was not involved, nor could it influence this decision and it was not because of any KCC policy.
The reason Stagecoach gives for the withdrawal of this services is simply not accurate, the Council never provided funding for this service so could not have withdrawn or reduced it. The funding that I believe Stagecoach refers to has been provided through central government, initially through Covid Bus Service Support Grant then Bus Recovery Grant and finally Local Transport Fund. This funding has helped sustain the network at pre-covid levels through this period, where passenger numbers dropped by 25% and the costs of providing services have increased sharply. Unfortunately, the funding that central government provided is now coming to an end and, as such, operators have been left with some difficult decisions and are having to make reductions in what they provide to ensure that their businesses remain sustainable. This situation has been confounded by the shortage of drivers and maintenance staff in the industry.
Unfortunately, the Council cannot intervene and subsidise these withdrawn services as it has no funds to do so, and we cannot compel an operator to run a service at a loss. One potential avenue to explore would be through the National Bus Strategy. Following a successful submission of it Bus Service Improvement Plan, Kent has been awarded an indicative, and welcome, allocation of £35.1m towards its plan, however final award is subject to further agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Kent have not yet received any of this funding.
The potential funding comes with several restrictions and requirements which unfortunately mean we cannot use it to sustain existing or withdrawn unviable services, but Kent will continue to explore all opportunities presented and are intent on using as much of the funding as possible to introduce new or amended services to areas most affected by current changes to the local bus network.
Further to this the Council has made extra funding available through its community transport fund so that local communities or parish councils such as in Rough Common can develop their own transport schemes. Information on this can be found on the Kent website using the link below.
I am truly sorry for impact the withdrawal of the Stagecoach bus service has had on your community and wish that the Council was able to do more to mitigate it, however I hope the above clearly sets out the position and provides some potential avenues for you to explore.
County Member, Sevenoaks Rural North East Division
Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Kent County Council