Demise of Fleet Buzz criticised

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Hampshire Council cuts see operator shut down

The demise of Stagecoach-owned Fleet Buzz in Hampshire following service changes instigated on January 5 has brought criticism from passengers. One, B J Smith of Crookham felt strongly enough to send a letter to the Daily Mail.

“On January 4, 2015 the bus passengers of Fleet will say goodbye to the battered, but cheery, yellow bus number 30,” says Mr Smith. “This faithful soul has ferried its young and old to town for shopping, to the library and surgeries and the hospital, eight miles away, and to the railway station. Due to cuts by Hampshire County Council we will no longer have this service.

“It was sometimes late and regularly broke down, but with its unfailing polite and helpful drivers, we always soldiered on. We can no longer go shopping, meet friends and maintain the independents lives most of us crave. Surely a good bus service is an asset, not a liability, to any town?”

Fleet Buzz service 11 (Farnborough – Paddock Hill) was transferred to Stagecoach from November 10, 2014. Route 30 (Basingstoke – Farnborough) was axed from January 5, Stagecoach saying a replacement is provided by routes 10 and 13 between Basingstoke, Hook and Odiham. Journeys between Fleet and Farnborough are provided by a revised route 72 operated by Stagecoach although this has been cut between Elveham Heath and Aldershot. Revised Stagecoach 415 now links Fleet with All Hallows School.

Fleet Buzz routes 31 (Farnborough – Frimley Park Hospital) and 77 (Church Crookham – Edenbrook) were also cut. Service 41 and 42 now operated by Stagecoach provide a combined hourly service between Ash and Farnborough town centre. Alternative journeys run via East Farnborough (41) and Queensgate (42). Southwood is served by new Stagecoach route 9 between Farnborough and Minley Estate. There have been minor changes to service 82 (Reading – Farnborough).

A new community transport service called Fleet Link and operating Monday to Saturday has been introduced for people living in Fleet, Church Crookham and Elvetham Heath areas. A service is also provided to Camberley on Wednesday and into Farnborough on Tuesdays for those wanting to visit the local market. Fleet link replaces ‘Call and Go’ and is jointly funded by Hampshire County Council, Fleet Town Council and Church Crookham Parish Council.

Fleet Buzz with 22 buses and 29 staff was sold to Stagecoach in December 2011, but can trace its origins to Basingstoke-based Countywide Travel formed in 1995. Three years later it relocated to the site formally used by Oakley Coaches in Oakley. Routes were taken over from Tillingbourne when that ceased trading in 2001, but the coach side of the business was sold to Weavaway Travel in October 2007. The bus operation then moved to Crondall.