Saviour of hill walkers is handed a new lifeline
Lincoln Business Improvement Group is looking for £5,000 a year in corporate sponsorship, advertising and passenger donations to keep Lincoln's walk and ride bus service running.
The threatened City of Lincoln Council service could now be taken over in a partnership between Lincoln BIG and PC Coaches of Lincoln.
The service transports people around the city and up and down the hill.
Amid a background of £3 million in cuts, the city council had tried to get a commercial operator to take it on.
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Under the proposed new deal, Lincoln BIG and partners need £20,000 a year to keep the service going until September 2015 and an annual £5,000 shortfall is identified.
Matt Corrigan, chief executive of Lincoln BIG, said: "There is still a shortfall in funding to make the service viable long-term and we hope to achieve this from sponsorship and advertising revenues, as well as seeking a level of donations from customers – many of whom have indicated that they are willing to make a small contribution rather than lose the service.
"We also hope to boost passenger numbers by promoting the service heavily to tourist visitors."
Under the deal, set to be considered by the council's executive on August 27, the authority would donate the walk and ride buses to Lincoln BIG.
The service is forecast to break even through continuing county council sponsorship, Lincoln BIG funds, an allowance in the contract price from PC Coaches and the eventual sale of the two buses.
At this point, PC Coaches would provide replacement vehicles from its own fleet.
The existing service runs Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and Sundays from midday to 5pm 362 days a year, stopping every 20 minutes at Silver Street, Castle Square, Northgate, Newport Arch, Westgate, Union Road, Park Street, Brayford, St Marks, St Mary's Street and Wigford Way.
Last year it carried more than 74,000 passengers, down from 104,000 in 2006/07.
The proposed new service is a Monday to Saturday scheme serving the same stops at the same frequency – except 2.45pm to 4.10pm – with single fares costing £1.50.
Visit Lincoln Partnership manager Emma Tatlow said: "We are delighted it is being made possible for the service to continue. It's really important we make access easy for tourists and residents.
"We know if people struggle to get up and down Steep Hill it may be a barrier to them experiencing the High Street."