Transport company Arriva have declined to operate future electric Fastrack bus services from next year while delays to infrastructure for electric buses may means service are broken-up for a period of time.
Notes from a Dartford Council meeting show surprise at the decision from Arriva to pull out, as three other national bus operators have opted to submit bids. Kent County Council stated:
“KCC had been surprised by Arriva’s decision not to bid for the new electrified Fastrack service, and were seeking assurances from the company that Arriva would continue to operate Fastrack under its current extended contract, until the electrical phase opened under a new operator in 2024.”
Arriva have been pushing up fares and cutting services for some time across many Kent services dating back before the pandemic. The company are owned by Deutsche Bahn who announced they would sell in November 2019 – then paused the process.
Since then stagnation has been the name of the game with little apparent investment or strategy.
Dartford and Medway should be a bit of a goldmine given the sheer number of new homes seen in many areas. It regularly comes near the top of local authorities for new housing with a future route planned through Ebbsfleet.
Arriva also operate many buses in south east London from their Dartford garage – and the state of buses often leaves much to be desired.
Anyone who has used the Fastrack website or Arriva’s own website has seen how limited funding or interest seems to be with broken links, poor information and an all-round air of indifference at best from Arriva.
Electric buses are due next year on Fastrack though are not being purchased by Arriva, however delays mean the current service may be broken up for a period of time according to meeting notes:
“Delay to the electrical infrastructure for Fastrack meant that there could be a potential 6-9 month delay to the operation of the electric fleet. Thus a need for a temporary arrangement that might create a possible interim breakup of Fastrack in its current guise.”
An update on the situation will be given at the next meeting on Tuesday 6th June.