WebberBus axed from Taunton park-and-ride duties

WebberBus axed from Taunton park-and-ride duties

WebberBus axed from Taunton park-and-ride duties

First published in News Somerset County Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

A TRANSPORT boss says he discovered that his firm had been axed from running Taunton’s park-and-ride scheme through the media.

WebberBus Ltd was sacked by Somerset County Council after passengers’ complaints about buses turning up late or not at all.

A council spokesman said the decision was taken after officers had monitored the service out of Silk Mills, at Bishop’s Hull, and Gateway, at Henlade, for months.

WebberBus boss Tim Gardner said he found out his firm had been dropped through a call from the media, and even his own drivers knew before him.

He said: “We recognise that during the last quarter of 2013 we had operating difficulties for a variety of reasons.

“We were asked by the council to put forward a recovery plan on how we’d put things right, and from January onwards we were operating at a position greater than we’d indicated.”

Mr Gardner said WebberBus, which ran the contract from November, 2010, and has worked for the county since 1947, was hampered by “horrendous” traffic congestion in Taunton, made worse by roadworks.

But the company still hit around 97% of its recovery plan targets – above the accepted norm of 95%.

He said: “Whatever we’d have done wouldn’t have made any difference because the decision was made to carry out this action months ago.”

Mr Gardner said none of the 17 park-and-ride drivers, who carried 6,500 passengers on a peak day, would be laid off.

Buses of Somerset – part of First group – has been operating the park-and-ride on an interim basis since Tuesday until a new contract can be arranged.

Cllr Harvey Siggs, county council cabinet member for transport, said: “Taunton’s park-and-ride service is vitally important to the town and we were disappointed to hear reports of poor service.

“We want the best for our customers and have taken this firm action to make sure that they receive a more reliable service in future.”

He said WebberBus Ltd remains a key partner of Somerset County Council, and will continue to operate many other commercial and contracted bus services across the county.

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:01pm Sun 27 Apr 14

sandrada says...

Has Mr Gardner really worked for the county for 67 years? the article says "Mr Gardner said WebberBus, which ran the contract from November, 2010, and has worked for the county since 1947, was hampered by “horrendous” traffic congestion in Taunton, made worse by roadworks. "
If the recovery plan had exceeded the 95% target why was the contract withdrawn?
This article raises a number of unanswered questions including why an alleged unsatisfactory state of affairs took so long to remedy.
Has Mr Gardner really worked for the county for 67 years? the article says "Mr Gardner said WebberBus, which ran the contract from November, 2010, and has worked for the county since 1947, was hampered by “horrendous” traffic congestion in Taunton, made worse by roadworks. " If the recovery plan had exceeded the 95% target why was the contract withdrawn? This article raises a number of unanswered questions including why an alleged unsatisfactory state of affairs took so long to remedy. sandrada
  • Score: 9

3:37pm Sun 27 Apr 14

Mi_Coc says...

If completely true and I have no reason to doubt mr gardener it raises further questions on how the scc seem to operate like they are a law unto themselves, cancelling contracts through the local rag is not professional and will probably leave them open to recrimination leading to a massive legal bill which ultimately will be left for us the tax payers to foot.

wheeler incident and many unanswered questions hang over it and now we find they can't even operate their contractile obligations.

I agree that judging a bus service over the last two quarters is difficult given the unprecedented level of road works within then town due to watering upgrades along side other projects.
If completely true and I have no reason to doubt mr gardener it raises further questions on how the scc seem to operate like they are a law unto themselves, cancelling contracts through the local rag is not professional and will probably leave them open to recrimination leading to a massive legal bill which ultimately will be left for us the tax payers to foot. wheeler incident and many unanswered questions hang over it and now we find they can't even operate their contractile obligations. I agree that judging a bus service over the last two quarters is difficult given the unprecedented level of road works within then town due to watering upgrades along side other projects. Mi_Coc
  • Score: 11

12:16pm Mon 28 Apr 14

SamF92 says...

It's sad to see First further cement their monopoly over Somerset. Webbers always had lower prices and newer, cleaner buses.
It's sad to see First further cement their monopoly over Somerset. Webbers always had lower prices and newer, cleaner buses. SamF92
  • Score: 6

7:30pm Mon 28 Apr 14

Rob71272 says...

did nobody else notice webberbus staff always parked in the disabled bays at silk mills?
did nobody else notice webberbus staff always parked in the disabled bays at silk mills? Rob71272
  • Score: -1

12:47pm Thu 1 May 14

Mi_Coc says...

Rob71272 wrote:
did nobody else notice webberbus staff always parked in the disabled bays at silk mills?
Shut the front door!!!!
[quote][p][bold]Rob71272[/bold] wrote: did nobody else notice webberbus staff always parked in the disabled bays at silk mills?[/p][/quote]Shut the front door!!!! Mi_Coc
  • Score: -2

12:47pm Thu 1 May 14

Mi_Coc says...

Rob71272 wrote:
did nobody else notice webberbus staff always parked in the disabled bays at silk mills?
Shut the front door!!!!
[quote][p][bold]Rob71272[/bold] wrote: did nobody else notice webberbus staff always parked in the disabled bays at silk mills?[/p][/quote]Shut the front door!!!! Mi_Coc
  • Score: -2

1:35pm Thu 1 May 14

topcataj says...

As someone who used the park and ride for over a year, he's either lying or insanely naive if he didn't see it coming. That or he thought SCC were completely toothless and he could get away with running a worsening service without losing the contract.

At times there have been traffic problems due to incidents or road works, but not enough to explain the way the service had gotten worse since last summer. Getting in to work had become a lottery, could easily be waiting 15 minutes for a bus where before it had been a lot better.

The stories among people who used the service was that the firm paid poorly and were struggling to keep drivers, supported by the notes at the park and ride sites and on buses acknowledging staffing problems.... They allegedly were managing to run other 'more profitable' services while letting the park and ride service underperform.

Yet of course, SCC are the villain in the story once again, no doubt people were blaming them for the poor service and now laying in to them for doing something about it!

It's a shame because it's a good service that seemed to run reasonably well for a time. With a couple of exceptions the drivers were generally friendly as well and they knew there were problems. The people running WebberBus need to take responsibility themselves.
As someone who used the park and ride for over a year, he's either lying or insanely naive if he didn't see it coming. That or he thought SCC were completely toothless and he could get away with running a worsening service without losing the contract. At times there have been traffic problems due to incidents or road works, but not enough to explain the way the service had gotten worse since last summer. Getting in to work had become a lottery, could easily be waiting 15 minutes for a bus where before it had been a lot better. The stories among people who used the service was that the firm paid poorly and were struggling to keep drivers, supported by the notes at the park and ride sites and on buses acknowledging staffing problems.... They allegedly were managing to run other 'more profitable' services while letting the park and ride service underperform. Yet of course, SCC are the villain in the story once again, no doubt people were blaming them for the poor service and now laying in to them for doing something about it! It's a shame because it's a good service that seemed to run reasonably well for a time. With a couple of exceptions the drivers were generally friendly as well and they knew there were problems. The people running WebberBus need to take responsibility themselves. topcataj
  • Score: 2

7:54pm Thu 1 May 14

sandrada says...

Toocataj has made some enlightening comments and they explain there was a clear need for the contract to be rescinded and another bus company to be charged with the task of running the service efficiently. Park and Ride is an important service and it is a shame that it was allowed to suffer from not being serviced correctly for so long. SCC can only withdraw the contract from a bus company when they have sufficient evidence that the service was not being properly serviced and so that would take a while. Let's hope that now the service is monitored and not allowed to deteriorate again.
Toocataj has made some enlightening comments and they explain there was a clear need for the contract to be rescinded and another bus company to be charged with the task of running the service efficiently. Park and Ride is an important service and it is a shame that it was allowed to suffer from not being serviced correctly for so long. SCC can only withdraw the contract from a bus company when they have sufficient evidence that the service was not being properly serviced and so that would take a while. Let's hope that now the service is monitored and not allowed to deteriorate again. sandrada
  • Score: 0

9:38pm Thu 1 May 14

Wivey3rds says...

Can anyone tell me how it has been improved by cutting buses on the Park and Ride service? They now run every 10 minutes peak time and every 15 minutes off peak compared to every 7 minutes peak and 12 minutes off peak when it was run by WebberBus. Consequently we all seem to now be waiting for buses at Silk Mills and when we get on there is only standing room only.

How will it cope when there is an event on in Taunton such as the Flower Show?
Can anyone tell me how it has been improved by cutting buses on the Park and Ride service? They now run every 10 minutes peak time and every 15 minutes off peak compared to every 7 minutes peak and 12 minutes off peak when it was run by WebberBus. Consequently we all seem to now be waiting for buses at Silk Mills and when we get on there is only standing room only. How will it cope when there is an event on in Taunton such as the Flower Show? Wivey3rds
  • Score: 4

6:53am Fri 2 May 14

FreeSpeech? says...

First Bus, don't make me laugh........ Should be renamed Last Bus or Shoddy Bus. Went on better buses on Malta in the 80's.
First Bus, don't make me laugh........ Should be renamed Last Bus or Shoddy Bus. Went on better buses on Malta in the 80's. FreeSpeech?
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree