Bus users ‘cut off’ by re-route plans

Worry: Rhiannon Walters and other angry Thornpark Drive residents
Worry: Rhiannon Walters and other angry Thornpark Drive residents
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Residents have blasted plans to re-route a ‘lifeline’ bus route.

The number 75 bus between Preston and Blackpool was threatened with the axe in December until locals mounted a campaign to save it.

Lancashire County Council said the service would be safe for a year, but following the collapse of the number 80 bus covering the Fylde area, the route is changing, meaning from March 30, number 75 it will no longer cover the Lea area.

Residents have vowed to fight the changes, which they claim will leave the most vulnerable in society stranded

Rhiannon Walters, of Thornpark Drive, Lea, said: “It is always our area that gets punished. The bus is a lifeline, quite a lot of elderly people and disabled people live around here and we have some sheltered accommodation. People struggle to walk and the bus is their only way of getting around.

“If the proposals go ahead it will cut us off at nights and weekends, and cut us off from the whole west end of Preston.”

She added: “We will fight it until the bitter end. In December we were told that for the next 12 months the route would be safe and now all of a sudden it will completely miss out Lea.”

Lancashire County Council has defended the decision to re-route the bus.

Tim Gornall, bus and supported transport manager at the LCC, said: “We’re currently reviewing subsidised buses which serve the Fylde area and have revised the route and timetable for service 75 to serve areas which were left without a regular bus service after the company which ran the number 80 service on a commercial basis withdrew it late last year.

“Lea is very well served by the 31 service which runs into Preston every 15 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime, as well as regularly on evenings and Sundays.”

But 65-year-old Rhiannon said the alternative service was not good enough.

She said: “The 31 doesn’t cover going down onto the docks where we can get to Morrisons and it doesn’t cover the west side of Preston near the railway station or Fishergate. But the 75 covers that, it goes down the docks and to the main shops and allows us to get our essentials.

“The 31 goes straight up Blackpool road, past the ring road and the market and on to the bus station. It finishes around 6pm every night and it doesn’t go past Hawthorn Crescent, Thorntrees Avenue or my estate Thornpark Drive.

“We don’t get any service on a bank holiday - what do they want us to do, stay indoors?”

Residents are also annoyed that they will be unable to travel with ease to Blackpool Victoria hospital, but Mr Gornall hit back.

He said: “Passengers who want to travel to Blackpool can connect to services 61 and 68 operated by stagecoach which run up to five times an hour from stops nearby on Blackpool road.”