This bus ser­vice should not cease

Loughborough Echo - - LETTERS -

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 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.

John Ben­nett.

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