End of the road for bus services
PASSENGERS have been left high and dry by a cut in bus services in mid Bedfordshire. On Sunday Stagecoach finally wielded the axe on services seen as unprofitable, a move the company announced just before Christmas. And in the wake of Stagecoach making it
PASSENGERS have been left high and dry by a cut in bus services in mid Bedfordshire.
On Sunday Stagecoach finally wielded the axe on services seen as unprofitable, a move the company announced just before Christmas.
And in the wake of Stagecoach making its cuts, Bedfordshire County Council dropped its own bombshell when it scrapped the East Beds Dart services covering Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton because of escalating costs.
New timetables have been put in place from this week, but there are claims of fewer buses and now the county council is saying regular services will go where they are most needed, leaving many people worried they could still be left out.
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Following the announcement of cuts, the problem of finding replacement services for villages threatened with being left without bus links was left in the hands of the county council which immediately announced a rescue plan.
At two public meetings, in Langford and Potton, Cllr Tom Wootton, cabinet member responsible for transport, said the council would make sure as many bus services as possible would be preserved.
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The council said the burden of keeping many services going would cost it around £700,000 and Cllr Wootton even went to Westminster to lobby for financial help but left empty handed.
Cllr Wootton said this week: "When Stagecoach announced severe cuts to their services the county council had to step in to make arrangements to cover many bus routes.
"The county council budget was already stretched to the limit and I met with the government minister concerned to ask for help, but sadly none was forthcoming.
"County council staff have worked very hard to come up with alternative timetables and managed to achieve an interim solution without any further costs to taxpayers.
"Sadly the East Beds Dart was found to be financially unaffordable due mainly to the lack of passengers using the service. People who used the East Beds Dart will still be able to use the Ivel Sprinter."
Cllr Wootton added: "After the cuts announced by Stagecoach and the interim timetables introduced last Sunday the county council will carry out a major countywide review of bus services in March to look at making bus transport more efficient and give customers regular services where they are needed most."
But one councillor says some travellers have to wade through pages of timetables to work out their route.
Langford councillor Frank Hendrix said: "My visit to Biggleswade bus station confirmed that passengers are experiencing some difficulty reading the council's new bus timetable booklet.
"Langford residents are obliged to negotiate no less than seven pages of timetables to work out their route to and from Bedford."
Cllr Hendrix also criticised the facilities at Henlow Newtown saying: "Timetables prepared by the bus companies or the county council appear to totally fail to appreciate the problems at Henlow Newtown.
"I presume no one has visited the location. If they had they would have noticed the very poor facilities for passengers there.
"There are no bus shelters or any other reasonable facilities for passengers, other then plain wooden benches. Passengers will resist using this as an interchange as they will not wish to get soaked on rainy days, frozen in winter or sunstroke in high summer.
"Facilities need to be improved significantly.