A use it or lose it warning has been issued to county bus users following an eleventh hour rescue plan for more than half of 113 under threat routes.
Passengers are now waiting for detailed timetables to assess the full impact of changes to services after the county council approved multi million cuts and threw a £2m lifeline to save some services,.
It had been feared all council subsidised routes might be axed Now after making £5m of cuts, 28 routes will still be subsidised by a special £2m county council bus fund, bus companies have decided to operate 40 on a commercial basis and a partial service will be offered on 39 routes.
Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport said: : “I’d encourage people to help us to maintain these buses by using them regularly....it’s clear the best way to keep these buses is to use them.”
Local campaigner David Hudson, Chairman of Save Our Buses, Ribchester, where it was feared all services would go, said the news that just evening services would be axed and the daytime service 5 would continue, was a relief. He said: “I’m relieved for villagers and users of the bus service - not just its users today but users of tomorrow.The message for the village is we’ve got to use it and make it a viable service.”.”
Meanwhile Green Councillor Coun Gina Dowding says the crisis had highlighted a desperate need for a fully integrated transport service. She said there was now there was a need to meet remaining demand - perhaps by fund raising or investigating provision of community taxi services to areas without services: “We can’t exactly celebrate but can at last say ‘phew- it’s not as bad as we thought”
Meanwhile Longton Parish Council has emerged as a trailblazer for how to redraw and extend the service map. Parish Council Chairman and county councillor Graham Gooch said the parish council raised its council tax to subsidise a bus for a year and had improved the service: ”It is going to be far more of a community service. Instead of cutting it we’re doubling it.”
The service will be extended at key times to enable students to get to Cardinal Newman College in Preston and he revealed: “We are going to put on Friday and Saturday evening service at 10.30pm from Preston.”
The last bus would then be able to collect people from New Longton and Whitestake who had enjoyed a night out in Longton and drop them off on its way back to the depot. For details of how your service may be affectedsee www.lancashire.gov.uk and bus service changes