No more Sunday buses from Biggleswade to Bedford or Hitchin after Central Bedfordshire Council cuts subsidy grant

Central Bedfordshire Councils decision to cut annual grants totalling about £16,700 to help fund rou

Central Bedfordshire Councils decision to cut annual grants totalling about £16,700 to help fund routes 71, 72, 73 and 81 has prompted the operator Stagecoach to withdraw Sunday and bank holiday services, as well as weekday evening buses. - Credit: Archant

Four bus routes linking Bedford to other parts of the county will no longer run on Sundays after a council subsidy was withdrawn.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s decision to cut annual grants totalling about £16,700 to help fund routes 71, 72, 73 and 81 has prompted the operator Stagecoach to withdraw Sunday and bank holiday services, as well as weekday evening buses.

Routes 71 and 72 link Shefford, Clifton, Henlow and Arlesey to Hitchin, while route 73 connects Biggleswade to Bedford via Sandy and Moggerhanger. Route 81 links Bedford to Luton.

The cuts mean it will no longer be possible to travel by bus from Biggleswade to either Bedford or Hitchin on a Sunday or bank holiday.

Central Beds Council says it has withdrawn the subsidy following a consultation last year that showed its new strategy would ‘not be detrimental to any specific group of residents’.

A spokesman said: “We consulted with residents in 2016 and received more than 1,500 responses. As part of the development of the Passenger Transport Strategy an equalities impact assessment was carried out, which found that the changes agreed within the Passenger Transport Strategy would not be detrimental to any specific group of residents within Central Bedfordshire.

“The new strategy prioritises delivery of transport services to elderly and vulnerable members of the community.”

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Stagecoach told the Comet that the subsidy cut had forced the firm to stop Sunday and bank holiday services, as there was an insufficient number of passengers to commercially justify running them.

Stagecoach East managing director Andy Campbell said: “These Sunday and Bank Holiday services were operated with financial support from Central Bedfordshire Council.

“Unfortunately, the funding has been withdrawn and, without this, the services are simply not viable as there have never been enough customers to operate them on a commercial basis.

“We apologise for any inconvenience to customers affected by the changes.”

Stagecoach’s new timetables come into effect this Sunday. To find out more and plan routes see stagecoachbus.com.

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