Combined Authority secures Wisbech bus routes

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A Stagecoach East Midlands 505 for King’s Lynn at Springfields, Spalding. Buses used on the route and the firm’s Wisbech routes are being refreshed by the company. STEVEN KNIGHT MEDIA

Stagecoach East Midlands is continuing to operate three routes in the Wisbech area after being awarded a contract from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA). The operator had deregistered the services from 23 July, prompting the CPCA to issue a competitive tender for the Wisbech town service and the routes to Long Sutton (50) and March/Manea/Benwick (56). At the request of the CPCA Stagecoach initially agreed to continue to operate the routes commercially for a further seven days, but delays in the Traffic Commissioner processing system meant they operated without fares being collected for three days.

Under the current contract, which is understood to run until the end of March, the CPCA is providing Stagecoach with £278,000 worth of funding with an additional £42,000 of funding coming from Lincolnshire Country Council. CPCA said: “The buses, routes, times, fares, drivers are unchanged, but are now supported by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.”

A spokesperson for CPCA also told CBW: “The Combined Authority is undertaking a review of the entire bus network, and these services will be retendered again as part of that in the autumn, along with all bus services currently tendered by the Combined Authority. The plan is to replace the existing bus network with one that works better for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with more capacity directed towards routes that are used often.” It is expected that new contracts for all CPCA tendered routes will start in April 2024.

In a separate move Stagecoach East Midlands has retained the half-hourly frequency on its 505 King’s Lynn-Spalding route following an additional funding stream from Norfolk Country Council. It had planned to reduce the service to hourly from 23 July 2023.

As part of the funding package more buses are now operating into and out of King’s Lynn via West Lynn. Stagecoach has also started a refresh programme for the vehicles used on the Wisbech services and 505 route which are based at Long Sutton, an outstation of Skegness depot.