Passengers furious over Grantham bus cuts and changes

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Passengers are furious that their bus services have been reduced, and in one case completely cut, since April 1.

Numerous changes came into force this week affecting many services run by Centrebus in and around Grantham.

One elderly couple said that by getting rid of the 4A service from the town centre to their home in Gonerby they were losing a lifeline.

Barbara Kevern, 72, and her husband Peter, 76, who has Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, can no longer catch the 4A on Easthorpe Road near their home.

Mrs Kevern said the service was “a physical lifeline and an emotional lifeline” which took them into town for shopping and appointments.

She said: “We will have to walk three quarters of a mile to catch a bus on the main road or pay £15 for a taxi both ways. I think they are penalising those who need it most.”

Lynda Coutts, a pensioner of Winchester Road, is furious that the number 3 service has been reduced with several buses no longer running in the mornings. She said the 8am service was reinstated after passengers protested but this was too early for others who now cannot get a bus until 10am.

Mrs Coutts said: “They are now going to be every hour which we do not mind, but 10am is ridiculous because I often went into town at 9.15am and that bus had a lot of people on it. And that service no longer goes to the hospital .”

Mrs Coutts also complained that no new timetables had been put up at the bus station, confusing many passengers.

County councillor Richard Davies agreed that there had been no consultation with passengers, but said services had to be cut because some were only averaging one passenger.

Mr Davies said: “I am really annoyed there has not been any consultation. I am disapppointed with the way the process has been handled.”

Tyler Cameron, a passenger on the Sunningdale bus, said: “I use the bus most days (on the Sunningdale route) to get to work and back. I am disgusted that Centrebus is stopping the buses on Saturdays as I know many people, including the elderly and disabled, who use the Saturday bus to get to town. My mum who has severe arthritis and osteoporosis, often uses the bus to get her shopping on a Saturday. She will not be able to walk to Alma Park or Belton Lane to get to the next stop. And the change of the latest bus to before two o’clock is quite frankly ridiculous. Myself and many people do not finish work before 5pm and many people do not finish errands before that time. Many residents of Sunningdale will probably agree with me, that our bus route is constantly being changed to benefit others.”

Centrebus Commercial Manager David Shelley said: “In January 2010, Centrebus entered into a funded arrangement for the experimental enhancement of a number of bus services in Grantham. This included investment in new vehicles, improvements to a number of existing services, and experimental services in parts of the town not well served by bus. This arrangement came to an end in March 2013, and as a result Centrebus has carried out a detailed review of what services can continue given that funding is no longer available.

“The scheme has been very successful in a number of areas, and passenger numbers have increased significantly in the town. As a result a number of the enhancements are able to continue even though subsidy has stopped. Service 1 in particular retains a 20 minute frequency throughout the daytime period, and buses to Great Gonerby are considerably better than they were three years ago, with a half-hourly service from Grantham for much of the day, and additional buses through to Newark.

“Areas such as Barrowby Gate, Sunningdale and Somerby also retain a service, in many cases not having any buses at all three years ago. Frequencies have reduced compared to what has been offered during the last three years, but this simply reflects the pattern of usage and the level of public funding that is now available.”

Anita Ruffle, the county council’s public transport strategy manager, said: “The decision by Centrebus to cut the 4A service is disappointing, but the existing bus network already covers most of the 4A’s route so customers shouldn’t be adversely affected. To assist customers we have extended our CallConnect service to people who aren’t able to use the alternative public transport that is on offer.

“The number 3 bus service will not run as frequently as it used to - it will operate every hour rather than every half hour - but the low usage made it commercially unviable.”