Henley Town Council has appointed a new provider for the Henley Town Bus Service. TK Travel, a local, family run company, will be starting the service in mid-October. A new 22 seater Mellor Strata bus has been ordered, with a low emission Euro VI engine.
The move comes following the decision by the bus service operator, Reading Buses – who took over the routes 151, 152, and 153 in August 2018 – to withdraw from the contract to run the service. Whilst the service was successful, and passenger numbers were as predicted when Reading Buses took on the contract in August 2018, they reviewed a number of routes and decided to stop the Henley service.
The new contract was published on the Contracts Finder website and Official Journal of the European Union in the spring of 2020. The coronavirus pandemic led to the suspension of the service in April and the contract with Reading Buses has now ended. Following alternative prices received from other companies, a contract has been agreed with TK Travel.
The service is not profit-making and is supported through housing developer financial contributions, and subsidy from Henley Town Council, which has been supporting the routes since Oxfordshire County Council removed all its bus subsidies as a cost-cutting measure in 2016.
TK Travel are a family run company, voted Best Minibus and Coach Hire Company in South East England in 2019 by SME News. They are taking their responsibilities with regard to the Coronavirus pandemic very seriously and can be seen sanitising their coaches on a video on their website. Buses will be able to take up to 12 passengers at a time with the current restrictions in place.
The new service will run on the previous routes, with an extension to serve Highlands Park.
The route numbers remain the same and the service will run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 2pm. If the service is successful, the Council and TK Travel hope to extend it in the future.
Town Councillor, Stefan Gawrysiak, said: “We are determined to continue a community bus service for Henley. We realise that this bus serves many members and sections of our community. It is also a contribution to improvement of air quality in Henley. We really look forward to working with TK Travel. They come with a fabulous reputation for service and reliability. Mayor Ken Arlett, Cllr Lorraine Hillier, Deputy Clerk Cath Adams, and myself have worked diligently for a number of months to bring this new service to fruition.”
Katie Gripton of TK Travel said “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Henley Council to deliver the bus service for Henley community. We are a family run company and we put customer service and the community at the heart of what we do. We are looking forward to starting the new service in October. “