Future of '˜vital' bus service in doubt

Review: John Asquith of Preston Bus, when the 88 was first launchedReview: John Asquith of Preston Bus, when the 88 was first launched
Review: John Asquith of Preston Bus, when the 88 was first launched
Families living in parts of Preston fear they may lose a 'vital' bus service.

Preston Bus is reviewing its network, with the future of the orbit services 88A and 88C in doubt.

Bosses say the routes are to be replaced by a number of shorter ones, but community leaders say people rely on the 88 to get to major services across the city.

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The service is not subsidised by Lancashire County Council, where leaders are proposing to cut subsidies that cost £7m a year.

Coun Mark Yates, who represents Larches ward, said he had been inundated with calls asking if the service was to stop, after residents said they had been told so by drivers.

An email to Coun Yates from operations manager John Asquith said: “As you maybe aware, we are currently carrying out a full review of our commercial and subsidised bus network.

“As such, there are a number of changes planned to most Preston Bus routes, details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.

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“It is inevitable that the future of the Orbit service is in doubt with the recent decision of the ‘Cabinet’ and the lack of any control by LCC of the Highway network and total lack of understanding regarding the bus station and its functionality.”

Coun Yates described the service as “vital” and said: “The residents are very, very concerned about the future of the 88, particularly people who use it to get to the hospital.”

He said it was also used by families visiting the Space Centre.

Lea councillor Christine Abram said local councillors had not been consulted, and said: “They are building all those new houses here and saying don’t use your cars, and yet they are withdrawing the bus service. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

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A separate email from Thomas Calderbank of Preston Bus said: “We have now finalised arrangements for the Preston Network Review, effective Monday 4th April.

“The Preston Orbit service 88A and 88C will be dismantled and replaced by a number of shorter services.”

It said Cottam would be served by two services, one from the bus station and one between Cottam and Royal Preston Hospital.

Preston Bus declined to comment further.