PLANS for a major upgrade of bus services connecting Pershore to surrounding villages could ‘alleviate rural isolation’ suffered from previous cuts, campaigners have said.
Under the plans submitted to Worcestershire County Council, which have been worked on by First Midland Red in conjunction with Pershore Public Transport Group, Saturday services would be restored to a number of Vale villages and an upgrade of off-peak weekday services would be rolled out in September.
As part of a package of improvements, villages such as Eckington, Littleworth, Norton and Wadborough, which all suffered major service reductions last year, would enjoy a two hourly – or better – off-peak weekday service to Pershore and Worcester, which will also be extended to offer new Saturday services.
Both the group and the bus company are also urging additional County Council funding be made available to restore services from Fladbury, which was left with only peak hour schools and commuter services in the last round of bus cuts.
The plans would also restore buses from the villages of Wyre Piddle and Lower Moor to Evesham.
The plans come after frustrated bus users aired their views on the cutbacks at a public transport forum in Pershore Town Hall last October.
Attended by local MPs, bus and rail operators and Worcestershire County Council officers, campaigners, led by Pershore Public Transport Group chairman Julian Palfrey, labelled the cutbacks as a ‘beeching on the buses’.
Vale villages such as Fladbury, Wyre Piddle, Eckington, Defford and Wadborough have been hit hardest by the cuts, with Worcestershire identified as suffering some of the worst of the bus cuts anywhere in the country, according to campaigners.
The latest change saw the 382 First bus service from Pershore to Worcester reduced from every two hours to every four hours, with the Saturday service scrapped completely.
Mr Palfrey said: “Since the packed public meeting on bus services in Pershore Town Hall last October, we’ve been working closely with First Midland Red to see how services and routes can be improved within the limited funding available.
“We’re urging a positive response from the County Council to the improvements to help alleviate the rural isolation suffered as a result of previous cuts, and have promised a full publicity and promotional campaign if the new services get the go-ahead.”
A Worcestershire County Council spokesperson said: “Worcestershire County council are in discussions with First Midland Red regarding changes to their network in Evesham Vale. Any changes will be made public through the usual channels once finalised.”