The following report has been carried in the Lancaster Guardian online edition:
Axed bus services in Lancaster could be reinstated
An extra £1m looks set to be made available for bus networks across the county.
Lancashire County Councillors are due to meet this week to discuss where investment is most needed. Key priorities are to restore lost links between communities, particularly in rural areas where people who don’t drive or own a car rely most on public transport, increase the frequency of services on routes where there is more demand, and stabilise the network to support routes which might otherwise disappear. The council’s new administration has committed to make an extra £1m available to support bus services, increasing the budget from £2m to £3m.
County Coun Andrew Snowden, lead member for highways and transport, has started a cross-party consultation for councillors to consider draft proposals for improving services, and put forward their ideas. He said: “I’m keen to ensure passengers benefit from the improvements to bus services we promised as soon as possible, I have already been working with officers on some draft proposals for how we could best meet the needs of communities with the new funding. “However, I also want to ensure that county councillors have the opportunity to input into work on behalf of the communities they represent and raise any issues they are aware of which will help to make sure the proposals we eventually bring forward have a real impact and provide the best possible value for money. A good public transport network is vital to support our economy, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to access work and education.
Following consultations, which begin with drop in sessions, proposals will be presented to the county council’s cabinet on September 14. County Coun Snowden added: “It also plays a vital role in helping people to carry out everyday tasks such as doing their shopping, visiting family and friends, and getting to health appointments.
“This extra funding will make a significant impact in supporting and supplementing the commercial network to link communities which might otherwise have no or very little public transport, and help to ensure transport connections across Lancashire are as effective as possible.”
Duncan and I participated in a video produced by The Guardian columnist John Harris and videographer John Domockos in Whittington during the County Council polling day, on Thursday of last week.
The resulting video, which covers the local government austerity cuts in a very interesting way, which includes the loss of our local bus service, is 11 minutes long.
Duncan and I, the Dragons Head and the Village Hall appear in two separate segments.
It is worth watching from start to finish, whatever your political persuasion. Use THIS LINK to watch our efforts.
I have spoken with Michael Sanderson of Stagecoach regarding the letter I sent to them on the 05 April. See Link to the letter. His response to the suggestion was:
First of all, he said there was an element of cost involved in the suggestion, because of extra fuel and drivers time. There was also a possibility of a problem of actually fitting what would be an extended journey within the time constraints.
He didn’t think it was a major problem that people have, at the moment, to wait in Lancaster for three hours between buses (it used to be an hourly service), and he didn’t think there would be a demand for passengers wanting to come into Kirkby from either Whittington or Arkholme for two + hours, and then go back on the 5:50 bus that Kirkby Coach Hire are going to provide.
He didn’t think there would be any passenger demand for that whatsoever.
That was probably everything that he said. He did, however, add that they will be looking into the running of the existing two school buses and they have already cut down one of them from a double decker to a single decker. He asked me how many people used the bus that passes through Whittington and I said it was very busy, it is almost full, but I didn’t know about the numbers on the other (Wennington) bus. He said that in September they will be considering reducing the service to one bus and they don’t want to put a new bus on the timetable in case they have to remove it again in September when they make the decision on this school service.
He suggested that I contact him in September to see if they have made the decision to reduce this service. If they haven’t they may consider running the bus we suggest.
Duncan has sent the following letter to Stagecoach. Lets keep our fingers crossed:
Mr. Michael Sanderson
16-20 Lowther Street
Carlisle CA3 8DA
05 April 2017
Dear Mr. Sanderson,
The residents of Gressingham, Arkholme and Whittington, in the Lune Valley, have an Action Group whose primary concern is to investigate ways to supplement the reduced public transport service which we receive since the removal of the County subsidy in April of last year.
We have a specific suggestion to which we would appreciate your company giving consideration.
You currently provide a term time only service, which leaves Kirkby Lonsdale Market Sq. at 15:45. The bus which provides this service leaves Lancaster at around 14:45, occasionally from the Depot and at other times from the Bus Station, and does not pick-up on its way to Kirkby.
We wonder if you would consider allowing this bus to take the old 81A route and pick-up on its journey. This would serve two purposes. Firstly at the moment you have a three hour gap between the 13:15 and the 16:15 services leaving Lancaster. We believe your passengers would love to shorten this wait. Secondly it would provide passengers a two hour time period in Kirkby before they returned to Lancaster on the new 17:50 which Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire will be providing from 01st May 2017.
We would appreciate your serious consideration of this suggestion
CC (by Email): Gressingham, Arkholme and Whittington Parish Councils; City Councillor Peter Williamson; County Councillor John Fillis and County Councillor Susie Charles