Bus leaders urged to stop the axe - The Evesham Observer

Bus leaders urged to stop the axe

Evesham Editorial 18th Aug, 2018   0

CONCERNED campaigners have called for action to be taken to stop proposed bus service cuts which they claim would decimate off peak services only introduced as recently as ten months ago.

The Vale Public Transport Group (VPTG) which campaigned for and promoted improved bus services, leading to the introduction of the 50’s services, has called for action to alleviate some of the worst effects of the cuts being proposed by operator First Bus.

They claim large villages such as Fladbury, Charlton and Wyre Piddle will lose all their off peak services and Eckington and Defford’s service will become so unattractive  to render it useless for shopping trips to Pershore and Worcester – the main reason for its existence.

First chiefs have told the VPTG the number of customers has increased since the new services were introduced but not by the extent to make them commercially viable. The financial position has now also been worsened by a County Council decision to reduce subsidies to bus operators.

“We have expressed our deep concern at the level of these planned cuts to Vale services both to First Midlands and Worcestershire County Council and have now taken up the issue with Vale MPs Harriett Baldwin and Nigel Huddleston,” said VPTG chairman Julian Palfrey.

“The announcement in late July also comes at the worst possible moment with regard to the desperate lack of time for any meaningful public representations due to the fact that many if not all the councils affected – including both Pershore and Evesham – do not have meetings in August and relevant county councillors and officers may be away at some stage.

“We are urging both the council and the government – through our MPs – to pay due regard to the serious hardship, rural isolation and health issues such cuts cause and increase funding for our ailing rural bus network to allow vital services to continue,” he added.

Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin has called on transport chiefs to rethink their decision and said the news was ‘disappointing’ for local people who rely on regular bus services – especially those who live in more rural areas.

“The news about the withdrawal of the service to the hospital is particularly concerning. By its very definition people who need to travel the hospital may have greater need because they are elderly or infirm and forcing people to make difficult diversions is definitely putting profit before customer service,” she said.

“I have always said people need to use bus services or risk losing them – I want to see the data underpinning this decision and understand what the local bus company is doing to offer the best possible services for our rural communities.”

In response, Sarah East, Head of Operations at First said: “We are also now 11 months into the trials we implemented on some of our routes, such as the 44 Malvern and Pershore corridors and have been evaluating the uptake, performance and sustainability of these services.”

“We provided Worcestershire County Council with details of our proposed changes which could affect some of our county services on July 6 and are awaiting a decision as to whether they will be providing support to retain some of the proposals.”


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