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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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‘Dirty tricks’ claim as Cumbrian bus firms clash

Bus company Reays has accused rival Stagecoach of trying to “run them off the road”.

Andy Horn photo
Andy Horn

The Wigton-based firm says Stagecoach has laid on extra buses immediately in front of its new Wigton-Carlisle service in an attempt to sweep up waiting passengers.

Stagecoach has denied any dirty tricks.

Reays has operated a school bus from Carlisle to Wigton’s Nelson Thomlinson School since February 2012.

It launched the 500 last month to make use of this vehicle during the day.

The service provides four return journeys from Syke Park and Greenacres through Wigton town centre to Thursby, the Cumberland Infirmary and Carlisle.

But a week after the 500 began, Stagecoach added extra journeys on its 38 service, leaving Syke Road at 9.16am and 10.45am – respectively four and five minutes before Reays’ departures.

The Stagecoach buses from Carlisle leave the bus station at 9.55am and 1.55pm, again five minutes before Reays’. Like the Wigton firm’s journeys, the Stagecoach buses run only on schooldays.

Andy Horn, transport manager at Reays, said: “This is blatant. We are trying to keep away from Stagecoach and do our own thing, and they come along and do this. They are trying to run a local company off the road.”

Reays launched a City Hopper network in Carlisle in 2010 in competition with Stagecoach but axed all but two of the routes last year, saying they were uneconomic. It also ran buses from Workington to Carlisle briefly, and seasonal routes in the Lake District.

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach denied that its extra Carlisle-Wigton journeys were deliberate spoilers.

“This is absolute nonsense,” she said.

“We find it telling that this issue has been raised only following a complaint we lodged about Reays occupying a city centre bus stop for long periods, preventing our customers from accessing our services easily. We are a highly professional bus operator and have operated services between Wigton and Carlisle for years.”

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