Transit journalist Rhodri Clark reported via Wales Online yesterday that the UK's second largest bus operator Arriva has paid North Wales independent operator KMP an undisclosed sum to stop operating a competing service between Llandudno-Bangor from 4 August. The amount is estimated to be around £1 million for the 7 low-floor buses KMP operate.
Llanberis-based KMP has not been purchased by Arriva, just its competing service. Arriva would appear to have been badly affected as a result of its competitor providing newer vehicles with low-floor entrances and offering a range of much reduced fares. An example given is a day return fare between Penmaenmawr to Llanfairfechan - a total of 5 miles; Arriva charge £3.80 while KMP charge £1.70.
What has angered local residents and AMs is that Arriva are to withdraw the KMP diagrams once under its ownership; thus a reduced frequency will be offered (4 per hour while the current service level offers 7 per hour) and passengers will lose out. To make matters worse Arriva is also the predominant rail operator in Wales, and the Bangor-Llandudno area is no exception. Welsh AMs are very concerned that people are being forced to take either their Arriva bus or the Arriva train and that this firm's domination is reducing competition and also reducing service levels yet increasing bus fares.
Yet despite this, and the pledge by a Penmaenmawr councilor to report the firm to the OFT, Arriva claim the change will be "seamless" and offer "significant benefits" to its customers. It would seem that the range of unlimited daily/weekly tickets in the Bangor area is something KMP did not offer, yet no similar initiatives are planned for those travelling further afield on the affected route.