AN important bus service contract linking Altrincham, Wilmslow and Knutsford has been renewed for the next four years.

At a cabinet meeting held in Sandbach on Monday, March 4, Cheshire East Council considered a proposal to award the contract for bus service 88 between Knutsford and Altrincham via Wilmslow, until March 31, 2019.

The report stated the full contract value of £550,000 would be fully funded ‘from within the current public transport budget and the bus service operator grant, which had been devolved to the council from January 2014’.

That cabinet decided to approve ‘the award of, and subsequently entering into a contract for, the service’ to the successful tenderer – current operator GHA Coaches – at a total cost of £550,000.

At the cabinet meeting Clr David Topping said: “This type of saving is worth commenting on – getting it from £914,000 to what it is, that is where we should be going and that is value for money.”

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: “The council has recently retendered the Knutsford to Altrincham service, recognising that this valuable and relatively well-used service is vital to Knutsford connectivity.

“This contract has been awarded to GHA Coaches, who are the parent company of Vale Travel, the current operators of the service. The tender process has resulted in a significant saving to the taxpayer and results from the work undertaken by the current operator to build passenger numbers and reduce the level of subsidy required.

“The council is optimistic that this positive trend will continue. Passengers can be reassured that there are no current changes to the timetable or route, although there may be positive changes to the timetable if the current rate of growth of passengers continues.”

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