Councillors have spoken out against plans to reduce the Into Town bus routes around Sleaford, saying it will hit vulnerable and sick people most.
Sleafordian Coaches, which runs the Into Town 1 and 2 services has announced it is virtually halving its routes from Monday December 11 meaning buses will run hourly instead of half-hourly and is axing some areas altogether, while not picking up as early in the morning for some others.
This will cause some difficulty for some of its customers Town Councillors have warned at their meeting last night (WWednesday).
The bus company states on its website: “Due to low passenger numbers the Into Town 1 and 2 bus services will now be combined into one Into Town bus service running an hourly service.”
Newfield Road is removed from the timetable at 8.28am and 3.43pm and all stops on Southfields have been removed.
The time at Church Lane School in the afternoon has been put back five minutes due to customer feedback making it now 3.20pm.
The 3.38pm will serve Northgate only, stopping at Tesco, Bush Tyres, Lincoln Road bus stops and terminating at Holdingham Mead.
The 5.05pm departure from Yorkshire Trading will now depart at 5pm.
The Saturday service remains unaffected.
The new route is on their website and in timetables from Sleafordian’s depot on Pride Parkway off East Road.
The news was greeted with concern at Sleaford Town Council’s meeting.
County Councillor Kate Cook said: “I have had a complaint that one of the Sleaford bus services has been scrapped. It was part funded and After the meeting Coun Cook explained information she had received from the council’s transport officer indicated that it was a joint decision by the council and the company due to falling patronage of the service, making it unviable to continue running two bus routes at this time, but they would continue to review the situation.
The service started in 2005 after a relaunch with new vehicles and infrastructure and it has continued to develop, but has been unable to operate without a council subsidy, with passenger numbers tailing off and little additional income coming in because most users have a bus pass while the size of the town is such that other people choose to walk to their destination.
She said, according to the transport officer, the age of the vehicles was making them less economic to run but there would not be enough funding to replace them.
In order to keep the service running they would reduce to one vehicle but the council will increase its subsidy to maintain the Saturday service and the majority of routes will continue, she said.
Town councillor Ken Fernandes was angered by the move, saying that residents in the north of the town would be losing out because of the early and late servixces going. He said: “People will not have time to get to the doctors for morning surgery appointments and get back. They are missing out North Parade completely but driving past us. It will cost the council more in funding Call Connect services instead.”
Coun Heather Lorimer said she knew of vulnerable people who relied on the service to go out and get food and hourly buses may not be convenient.
Coun Cook added some hope: “I have spoken to the district council planning department and the plan is for some of the Section 106 developer financial contributions for building the big housing developments around the town will be used to create a new bus service to replace that. There is hope on the horizon but that will take time.”