FRUSTRATED Vale public transport users are being invited to a public meeting to air their views on recent bus cutbacks in villages around Pershore.
Growing concern over the effects of major service reductions in Pershore area has led to transport campaigners organising a public transport forum in Pershore Town Hall in the town’s High Street on Thursday (October 13) at 7 pm.
Local MPs, bus and rail operators and Worcestershire County Council officers and councillors are among those invited to the meeting to be chaired by Pershore Mayor, Coun Bob Gillmor.
Vale villages such as Fladbury, Wyre Piddle, Eckington, Defford, and Wadborough have been hit hardest by the cuts as Worcestershire has been identified as suffering some of the worst of the bus cuts anywhere in the country, according campaigners.
A number of cutbacks have been made to bus services in Pershore in recent months with the latest change seeing the 382 First bus service from Pershore to Worcester reduced from every two hours to every four hours with the Saturday service scrapped completely.
Campaigners, led by Pershore Public Transport Group chairman Julian Palfrey, have labelled the cutbacks as a ‘Beeching on the buses’.
“Many evening and Sunday services were axed in the last round of bus cuts around three years ago and these latest changes are cutting services to the bone through the withdrawal of Saturday services and off peak weekday buses causing serious hardship and leading to rural isolation,” Mr Palfrey said.
“A number of the villages involved lost their rail stations exactly 50 years ago due to the infamous Beeching Axe – and now they are losing their replacement bus services which were guaranteed at the time.”
While campaigners acknowledge Pershore’s rail services have improved over the years there was a cut in service levels in May 2015 despite a 62 per cent increase in usage over the last five years.
And after a major track redoubling project in 2011, Pershore users still await a much needed hourly service and are ‘increasingly frustrated’ by a 14-year delay in resolving parking problems at the station, according to Mr Palfrey
“There are serious doubts about whether the public transport network in the Pershore area will be able to cater for the massive increase in housing growth already under way which will otherwise lead to increased traffic congestion and chaos on our local road network,” he added.