Planned Cuts to Village Bus Routes Provokes An Angry Response
CUTS to vital bus routes in towns and villages around East Cambridgeshire have provoked an angry response. Several major routes are facing being cut or reduced by operator Stagecoach, which has a near monopoly on services in the district, threatening to l
CUTS to vital bus routes in towns and villages around East Cambridgeshire have provoked an angry response.
Several major routes are facing being cut or reduced by operator Stagecoach, which has a near monopoly on services in the district, threatening to leave dozens of passengers who rely on services to travel in rural areas stranded.
Ely Councillor Nigel Bell, a member of the East Cambridgeshire Environment and Transport Area Committee said: "These changes demonstrate just how the county's rural communities are at the mercy of a bus company that effectively has a monopoly on services.
"It is an appalling situation that has been allowed to develop and a root and branch reform of how the counties' bus services are regulated and funded needs to be carried out."
According to the new timetable, which comes into force on February 14, the X9 service between Ely and Cambridge will switch to operating hourly at off-peak times instead of half-hourly.
The number 9 service between Cambridge, Ely and Littleport will be hourly with journeys between Ely and Cambridge reduced to two mornings and one evening service.
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Another service due to be hit is the 9A Ely town service, which is planned for withdrawal next month. It is understood that Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) will now start a tendering process for companies to take over the service.
Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, Ian Allen, said: "One of the key points in the Ely Masterplan was about getting people on the fringes of the city linked with the centre but this has suffered a major blow thanks to what was effectively a private monopoly.
"I don't know if the county council will be able to step in and help because there isn't enough money to subsidise all the affected routes."
A spokesman for Stagecoach confirmed that some services would be withdrawn in East Cambridgeshire from February, highlighting the effects of the recession for the operator's decision to change its timetable.
Cllr Mac McGuire, cabinet member for highways and access at CCC, said: "We are now considering if mitigating arrangements are possible, and will look to negotiate and organise these arrangements, as well as communicating the changes to the public.
"However, given the extreme financial pressures affecting the authority at present a number of difficult decisions will have to be taken before we could look to subsidise any of the routes affected.