Number of bus journeys up 40 per cent, say LibertyBus
THE number of passenger journeys has risen by 40 per cent since LibertyBus took over the Island’s bus service five years ago, the company’s director has said.
When CT Plus – which operates LibertyBus – replaced Connex, 3.2 million passenger journeys were recorded. By the end of last year the total number of journeys had risen to 4.5 million.
LibertyBus director Kevin Hart said the increase in passenger journeys had boosted income, enabling a ten per cent reduction to the annual States subsidy, which is paid to the company to provide the timetable routes, school buses and free travel for pensioners.
In 2013 the company received £4.5 million from the public purse. This year the subsidy was reduced by £450,000 and Mr Hart said the company hoped to continue that trend. About a third of the subsidy is taken up by the school bus service.
‘Our ultimate aim is to get a bus service that pays for itself but that is many years away so we are working with the States to reduce the subsidy,’ Mr Hart said.
‘It has been reduced by ten per cent over the past five years and we want to reduce it further in the future.’
The extra journeys have been generated by increasing route frequency – such as by running four buses an hour, all year round on the busiest routes to Gorey and the Airport, as well as by introducing new routes such as the 22 to L’Etacq.
LibertyBus is operated by CT Plus Jersey which is part of HCT Group, a UK social enterprise which runs ten red London bus routes as well as park-and-ride services, staff transport and school transport. It has been operating Guernsey’s bus service since April 2012.
‘Over the past five years bus usage in Jersey has grown considerably from 3.2 million passenger journeys operated in 2012 by Connex to 4.5 million passenger journeys operated in 2017,’ Mr Hart said.
‘We started with 43 brand new vehicles in 2013 and since then we have introduced a further five double-deckers and two single-deckers to the network. On top of this we have had 13 older vehicles refurbished over the last two years to make sure we always have a fully accessible fleet of vehicles available.
‘We employed 54 full-time drivers in 2013 when we first started, and we now employ 90 full-time, plus over 40 part-time drivers.’
Liberty Bus has also changed bus fares by charging £2 per journey, and introducing the prepaid AvanchiCard which it says has been taken up by 60 per cent of travellers.
Mr Hart said the company was looking into introducing contactless payments as well as new routes. Added frequency on existing routes could also be considered, if there is demand from Islanders.