Discussion with Arriva representative
Members entered into a question and answer session with the Commercial Director, Arriva in relation to operational issues in Darlington.
Following a question regarding reimbursement for customers with bus passes and a reduction in ticket prices, the Commercial Director informed Members that Arriva had been in receipt of government funding to cover operational costs, however even with this funding the company had been operating at a loss, in part due to the requirement for the company to be running at 90 per cent or more of pre-COVID-19 mileage levels; and during the lockdown periods customers were offered partial refund or an extension to their passes.
Discussion ensued regarding the lack of bus routes in certain areas of the town and the suggestion to incentivise bus travel. Members were informed that passenger levels in the North East were at 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and as such investment in new routes was a challenge, however potential funding from the Bus Service Improvement Plan could allow investment in new routes.
Following a question, Members were informed that it would not be financially viable to run smaller vehicles more frequently due to fuel and driver costs, however bus scheduling could be adjusted to meet demands in peak periods; reference was made to the incentive packages that were available to businesses, working in partnership with Arriva to offer a bus service to the workplace; and Arriva and Stagecoach were supporting a bid to introduce Hydrogen vehicles in the region.
RESOLVED – That the discussion be noted.