MOST of the threatened 374 bus route has been saved due to the hard work of Thurrock Council’s Passenger Transport Team and Amber Coaches Ltd.
The council’s transport portfolio holder, Cllr Oliver Gerrish said on Thursday (5 March): “I said earlier this week I was confident we would find a solution and now I would like to thank everyone involved in making sure we succeeded – and especially Mr George Webster, Managing Director of Amber Coaches.”
He said: “We talked with Amber and we still have to provide a small subsidy – less than Â£30,000 compared to the Â£Â¼ million we were paying before – and there are fewer trips and not everywhere is covered, but we are getting there.”
The new route includes four morning and four afternoon trips both ways between Grays and Basildon, taking in Chadwell, West and East Tilbury, Coalhouse Fort, Linford, Stanford and Basildon Hospital every day, Monday through Friday. The operator has also maintained a limited service on Saturdays.
Cllr Gerrish said: “Amber believe that by tweaking the route and trips they hope they can make this route pay – with our support.
“Now it is up to everybody who can use this route to do exactly that and ensure Amber can make the money they need to keep this route running throughout this year and into the future.”
Mr Webster said: “The current 374 service will continue until the end of April, but after that it will change.
“The new service will not serve Fobbing, Horndon-on-the-Hill or Orsett Hospital.
“We are disappointed we could not find a way of serving these places and people, but something had to give with the limited resources available.
“The new 374 will be a commercial service reliant on the fares revenue it generates and the council has agreed to provide a small subsidy for the first 12 months.”
Cllr Gerrish added: “Make no mistake, Thurrock Council cannot continue supporting public transport in the same old way as the cuts to our funding bite deeper still.
“We would rather keep all our council services going – however, compromises and innovative solutions need to be found.
“We will continue to make those hard decisions but all the while we’ll keep fighting as hard as we can to mitigate the impact on our residents and communities.”
Cllr Gerrish concluded: “Again I’d like to thank Amber and our team for their brilliant efforts. Now we have to turn our attention to Horndon-on-the-Hill to see if we can find a solution there as well – we are already working on that.”