Major changes to buses in the centre of Preston have been revealed.
Preston Bus has published the list of adjustments to its city network and includes some reduced evening and weekend services, as well as the dismantling of the orbit route.
Bosses at the company say the 88A and 88C circular services will be withdrawn and replaced with shorter routes, as they went through a “series of chronic traffic congestion bottlenecks”.
They said: “Without local authority support through adequate bus priority schemes, sensible parking restrictions, clearways and infrastructure investment it was impossible to maintain or improve reliability, consistently resulting in the highest number of complaints for any single Preston Bus service.”
But the decision to cut the service, to be replaced by shorter routes, has been slammed as a “disaster” for residents.
Coun Mark Yates, who represents Larches ward, said: “This commercial decision by Preston Bus is a disaster for the residents of Larches and Savick area by withdrawing the vital link to many businesses and more importantly the only direct route to Royal Preston Hospital for staff, visitors and patients.
“They say on their website that they have consulted customers about these changes. Well if they have, and I’m very doubtful about that, they certainly aren’t listening to the over 1,700 people who have now signed petitions calling on then to rethink this.”
Coun Christine Abram, who represents Lea ward, said the new Cottam to the Royal Preston Hospital service would not serve the residents of Lea, and said: “The west of Preston has no route to the hospital without going into Preston and out again.
“We gave them (the residents of Lea) the ability to get across to the hospital and Asda and people have taken jobs there knowing they can get there, and we’ve taken those away from them and given nothing back.
“One lady I spoke to said it was a lifeline, she goes that way every day and now she can’t.”
Thomas Calderbank of Preston Bus said the withdrawal of the orbit service was a “commercial decision”, but said “we only had one option”.
He said: “The main reason is because of the traffic congestion around Preston, which force us to put extra buses and drivers on the road to maintain reliability – effectively increasing costs by 20 per cent and not increasing ridership or revenue.
“The indirect subsidy cuts do not help the matter either.”
He said the company now has to pay some fuel duty on the diesel used, and was only reimbursed by 55 per cent for concessionary travellers.
Mr Calderbank said a survey had been carried out of residents in Cottam, and data was analysed from ticket machines.
He said: “Whilst residents would have to catch two buses to get to the hospital, these changes mean that there are more journeys provided to the city centre and those journeys will be more reliable than they are now.” He said requests could be made for direct services at particular times of day.
County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The Orbital is a commercial service and receives no funding from the county council.
“We understand that Preston Bus may have their own business reasons for making changes to the route, not least that funding support received from a developer through the planning system has recently come to an end, but it’s clearly wrong of them to try to blame the county council for their actions.
“The Orbital route by its very nature is a long route and visits many parts of Preston so there is a high likelihood that on any one day it will encounter congestion or roadworks, but these are issues which affect any busy city, and are not exclusive to Preston or this individual route - city traffic affects all the bus routes.
“The county council has been proactive in identifying and bringing forward solutions to congestion problems through the Highways and Transport Masterplan for Central Lancashire.”
6/6A – Red Scar via Brookfield.
It will operate direct to Brookfield via Deepdale Road and Watling Street Road, continuing to Red Scar Industrial Estate via Gamull Lane.
It will operate every 10 minutes on Monday to Saturday daytimes and every 20 minutes during the day on Sundays.
8 – Moor Nook via Ribbleton
It will have a revised timetable and some journey times may be slightly different.
On Sundays, the daytime frequency will increase to every 20 minutes.
12 – Longton via New Longton
The route through Penwortham will be revised and journeys will no longer operate via Broadgate.
The frequency will be every 30 minutes during the day, with no evening or Sunday service.
A single return journey at 10.30pm from Preston will operate on Fridays and Saturdays only.
14/14A – Longsands Lane via Holme Slack
The route and timetable will be changed to partially replace the 88A and 88C.
It will operate via the existing route to Ronaldsway, where it will serve Cromwell Road, Watling Street Road and Eastway.
At peak times the service will terminate at the Anderton Arms and return to the city centre via Longsands and Eastway.
During the day, it will extend to Squires Wood.
It will operate every 15 minutes through the day Monday to Friday, with no evening or Sunday service.
16 – Farringdon Park via New Hall Lane
The service will have a revised timetable with later journeys introduced on Fridays and Saturdays at 10.30pm and midnight.
19 – Royal Preston Hospital via Deepdale
The service will have a new timetable, with extra time added to allow for delays.
Early morning journeys that operate via Broadwood Drive will no longer serve the estate, instead following the present 19A route direct to the hospital.
23 – Asda via Royal Preston Hospital
The service will have a new timetable, and an anti-clockwise loop of Eastway, Oliver’s Place and Pittman Way will be operated.
Later buses will run to the Black Bull on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight and at 1am.
31 – Savick via Brook Street
The route of the service will be changed so all journeys will operate via West Park Drive, Savick Way turning circle, Ainsdale Drive and Lea Road before returning direct to the city centre along Blackpool Road.
No journeys will operate to Lea, and the service will now finish at 9pm.
35 – Tanterton via Lane Ends
New late night journeys are to be introduced at 11.30pm, 12.30am and 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
43 – Cottam via Ingol
Service 44 will be re-numbered to 43.
It will operate to Ingol via Inkerman Street, Lytham Road, Mill Lane and Cadley Causeway. It will not operate via the Ingol estate, but via Cottam Avenue, Whitby Avenue and Redcar avenue.
The daytime frequency will reduce to every 30 minutes, and no Sunday or evening service will be provided.
88 – Cottam to RPH
The service will operate from Lea Road/Cottam Way roundabout to Royal Preston Hospital via the current Orbit route and will have a new timetable.
89 – Lea via Larches
This service will replace the withdrawn Orbit service to Larches and the revised 31/31A around Lea, with a revised timetable.
Orbit services 88A and 88C
Itwill be partly replaced by the following alternatives:
• 6/6A – Red Scar - Brookfield - Deepdale - City
• 14/14A – Longsands - Cromwell Road - Holme Slack - St George’s Road - City
• 43 - Cottam and Ingol - City
• 88 – Cottam - RPH
• 89 – Lea and Larches - Docks - City
The Preston Bus services of 13/13A, 75, 80, 112, 113, 114 and 68 will be withdrawn.