Local Conservative Councillors have successfully worked with Britannia Bus Company to restore the 440/450 bus service to the residents of Westcroft, Emerson Valley, Furzton, Shenley Wood and Woburn Sands.
Following extensive and well-publicised disputes between the Labour-Liberal Democrat administration and Britannia, within which Britannia publicly declared that the Council was putting politics before their residents, these routes were withdrawn in Autumn of last year.
Whilst the Progressive Alliance were focusing on this public fallout, the Conservative Councillors of these affected areas stood up for their residents, many of whom relied upon these bus routes to access key services , such as supermarkets and GP surgeries, and set about working on a solution.
Derek Taylor, Managing Director of Britannia Bus Company adds…..
“During my 25 years in the public transport sector, I have successfully worked with councils administered by Conservative, Liberal Democrats, Labour and a committee of ‘no overall control’, mostly enjoying a good working relationship. Until now. Given that Milton Keynes was the fastest growing City pre-pandemic that around 1/3 of the City is devoid of buses is telling. Even more telling is that the current administration has seemingly declared war on the only operator seeking to commence entirely commercial- that is routes not funded by taxpayer- services. My colleagues and I gratefully acknowledge the support and guidance of Cllr. Hopkins and Cllr. Taylor in restoring these routes and this shows just what can be achieved when bus companies have the support of and co-operation of locally elected members. We call upon the coalition to follow the lead of the opposition and work with the industry- not just us, but all companies, including those already here and those in surrounding towns and Cities, so that passengers can enjoy the same level of service that everyone else has.”
Group Leader Cllr David Hopkins and Cllr Chris Taylor engaged directly with Britannia, advocating for these key routes. Cllr Hopkins comments “We have to get away from the council administrations view that it is an all or nothing public transport solution for MK. Either you take the MK Connect solution or no solution at all. There is a third way for providing and supporting bus services across Milton Keynes, and that is combining the Direct Response (Dial a Bus) Transport offer known as MK Connect service with timetabled, reliable and spacious bus services - especially at peak times. It seems that the further you live from the centre of MK the less likely you are to have a dependable public transport service and that is something a Conservative led council will address (city wide) in the future’
Cllr Taylor adds: "It is shameful that so many residents have been deprived of this essential public transport, all because of this dispute. I am just so glad that thanks to the tenacity, persistence, and refusal of Derek Taylor and his team at Britannia to give into this regressive administration’s obsessive push at replacing a traditional bus service with an inferior replacement pseudo taxi service (MK Connect) has failed. I do see the need for a service like MK Connect, but it should never be as a replacement to traditional bus services, but rather a complimentary service to fill in any gaps in demand."
Milton Keynes Conservative Group are proud to have given back this lifeline to the affected communities and understand the importance of retaining these links across all communities in Milton Keynes. The Group call upon the Progressive Alliance to acknowledge their failings in this incident and listen to the residents of our city by thinking again on their consistent refusal to maintain traditional bus services.