THE only bus route from Wickford to Basildon’s Festival Leisure Park is to be axed, despite years of campaigning to get a service.
Essex County Council, which subsidises the 236 service to Bas Vegas, off Cranes Farm Road, has started a consultation over whether to cut the route, claiming it costs too much.
After years of false starts, the evening bus service was launched in March 2012, with County Hall agreeing to subsidise the route to the tune of £60,000, with Nibs buses running it.
But the Tory administration claims the service costs them £8.13 per person to run in subsidies, and says it is not profitable enough for Nibs to run it on its own.
Alan Ball, Ukip county councillor for Wickford Castledon, said: “It will be a shame if the service goes because I don’t think it is advertised enough.
“I believe it’s the only service to Festival Leisure Park, but I have to admit whenever I see the bus, it does look empty. I would give it another year, advertise it properly and see if usage goes up before cutting it.”
The hourly service runs to the night-time hotspot from 7pm to midnight, Monday to Saturday.
Starting at Wickford train station, it stops a further three times in the town, before going to Gardiner’s Lane South and then Festival Leisure Park.
The final three stops on the route are Ghllygrove, in the Gore, Basildon, Basildon bus station and then Basildon Hospital.
Essex County Council was unable to say if the stops to Basildon bus station and the hospital would be affected by whatever decision is made.
The leader of the Tory administration, David Finch, said: “We need to ensure we have services that deliver value for money to local residents.
“This includes reviewing services to see if we can fund or provide them differently.”
All the contracts will continue to operate until Saturday, August 30, when they expire.
However, County Hall insists no decision has been made yet about what will happen after that.
Commuters and clubbers are being asked for their views on the services through a consultation running until Friday, June 27.
To provide feedback on these proposals, send your views to: Passenger Transport Liaison Team, STC, Essex County Council, Council, County Hall, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1Q or to Passenger.TransportLiaison@essex.gov.uk.