This bus service should not cease
THIS bus service should not cease!
Last Saturday I travelled on the 1305 service 129 bus from Loughborough to Ashby de la Zouch, operated by Paul S Winson and supported by Leicestershire County Council.
A good 10 minutes before departure time the regular passengers were comfortably seated and chatting as I am sure they always do.
I don’t know what the usual topics of conversation are but on that journey there was only one – the impending threat to the continued operation of this bus service.
Leaflets about the consultation process (Consultation on the draft passenger transport policy and strategy) which finish today on Wednesday, June13, show this Community Bus Partnership service as “continuation at risk”.
This is not the first time discussions on the future of this route have reached this stage and the mood among the passengers was not one of optimism for a favourable outcome.
The paid officials and the elected members of the county council will review the responses to the consultation during the autumn, but how many of them will actually experience the service offered by Paul S Winson and listen to the concerns of the passengers who are after all Council Tax payers and electors?
Sixteen people on the 1305 departure last Saturday more than half-filled the smart little bus provided to operate the service, especially when a number of shopping bags and trolleys were also accommodated.
Most people were holders of a “bus pass” and rely on the service for their shopping; Loughborough shops would lose some worthwhile trade if those bags and trolleys were not filled in the town.
No one was set down at Nanpantan, which is surprising since it is not all that long ago that buses ran there very regularly and the first passengers to leave did so in the housing estates of Shepshed at points well away from the central bus stops at the Bull Ring and too far away.to walk with heavy bags of shopping.
Next was Belton, which has previously led the battle to save its bus service, where a number of ladies alighted.
One reason for the small size of the bus became clear at Osgathorpe where a circuit of the village using very narrow lanes is made and then on to Griffydam, Peggs Green, Newbold and Lount.
A new passenger, with shopping trolley, joined us before Newbold, with four of us completing the journey into Ashby.
Our driver was well known to the regular passengers, almost all of whom thanked him by name as they left, a good sign of the level of appreciation of the service offered and the need for its continuation. The timings on the route are very “tight”, with no time to waste, but every courtesy was extended to other road users, including the pair of cyclists clad in striking blue lycra, whom we encountered at three different points on the journey!
This bus service should not cease!
It provides a lifeline to people who might otherwise be isolated by reason of where they live. Sharing a taxi was discussed and dismissed due to the cost and complications and one lady expressed regret that she had not moved out of her village now that the bus was under threat – these are real people with real concerns, not just numbers or percentages in a consultation.