Surrey County Council paid bus service Abellio £120,000 to keep its services running until December as the company could not afford to because of “mismanagement”.

Abellio announced in September that nine of its services, mainly routes to and from Kingston, Elmbridge and St Peter’s Hospital, would be axed after December 31 for “commercial and operational reasons”.

An Abellio spokesman said at the time: “This decision has not been taken lightly. Although substantially downsizing our operation, it is designed to secure a sustainable future for Abellio Surrey so that we can continue to deliver a quality service to the majority of our passengers.”

Services to be axed:

  • 81  Woking-Barnsbury Estate (Sundays)
  • 436 Woking-Sheerwater-West Byfleet-Byfleet-Brooklands (Sundays)
  • 458 Kingston-Esher-Hersham-Walton-Shepperton-Staines
  • 514 Kingston-Thames Ditton-Molesey-Hersham-Weybridge-Brooklands-Addlestone
  • 515 Kingston-Thames Ditton-Esher-Cobham-Ripley-Guildford
  • 555 Heathrow-Ashford-Sunbury-Shepperton-Walton-Hersham
  • 556 Woking-Sheerwater-Woodham-New Haw-Addlestone-Chertsey
  • 557 Woking-Sheerwater-West Byfleet-New Haw-Addlestone-St. Peter’s Hospital-Chertsey-Shepperton-Sunbury
  • 663 Walton-Hersham-Esher High School

Councillor Mike Goodman, cabinet member for environment and planning, told fellow councillors at a full meeting last month that the council had tried in vain to extend the services, but were only able to negotiate an extension until December.

He said: “It is nothing to do with Surrey County Council. Abellio came to us in the middle of this year and said they couldn’t afford the services to continue because of mismanagement. That’s the blatant truth of it.

“We talked to them and we wanted to extend until September next year but unfortunately they said no, it had to stop in December.

“We then negotiated with them a fee to pay them so we could continue the services our residents want, and that is continuing until December. We did reduce that with some negotiation, but it’s still coming out of our budget that was not budgeted for.”

Changes to continuing services

  • 446 Woking-Staines-Stanwell Moor-Terminal 5 – to be withdrawn Staines to Terminal 5
  • 461 Kingston-Walton-Weybridge-Addlestone-St Peter’s Hospital-Staines – to be withdrawn Addlestone to Staines, but with a replacement service 459: Walton-Vicarage Fields Estate-Walton Hospital-Walton Station-Weybridge-Addlestone-St. Peter’s Hospital
  • 564 Whiteley Village-Hersham-Walton Hospital-Walton-Vicarage Fields-Xcel Leisure Centre – to be withdrawn between Walton and Xcel, but replaced at Vicarage Fields by new service 459 (above)

Cllr Goodman indicated that there were several other companies who may look to take over the services, and that it was currently out for tender.

He added: “It is going to be challenging, but I really believe my officers are some of the best officers in transport, and we will do the best for our residents in Surrey.”

A county council spokesman said that the fee paid to Abellio to plug the gap cost the council £120,000. He added the funds came out of the public transport pot.

A county council spokesman said: "Without this funding Abellio would have stopped operating services in early October, leaving little time for us to secure alternative provision, and the extra few months has given us the chance to speak to companies to try and make sure these services are covered despite the increasing financial pressure on our services, in particular adult social care."

Walton south county councillor Rachael Lake said removing some of the services would “alienate” Elmbridge from other parts of the borough.

She said: “That bus that they’re proposing to stop goes from Walton to Esher, so anyone in that part of Elmbridge cannot get to Esher, cannot get to Cobham.

“I’d like to ask Mr Goodman to work very closely with Elmbridge Borough Council so that this part of Elmbridge is not alienated from the other parts by the cancellation of one specific bus.”