Anger as busy Grantham bus service used by elderly is cut
Cuts to a bus service which is “a lifeline” for elderly and vulnerable people have been branded “disgusting”.
And many passengers have been left in disbelief that Centrebus bosses would choose to entirely remove a Saturday service, “the busiest day of the week” for passengers.
The number 3 Centrebus service runs between the Barrowby Gate area of Grantham and the town centre, Monday to Saturday.
The Journal has received several calls from angry passengers since they found out the Saturday bus would no longer run from April 7.
Geoff Thomas, 76, lives on Barrowby Gate. He said: “Saturdays are the most popular, especially the 10.45am service [from the town centre].
“A lot of us go down to the market so you’ve got a situation where [South Kesteven District Council] is trying to promote the market and the buses are being taken away.
“A lot of people up here don’t have transport. People up here need that bus.”
Mr Thomas found out about the service’s cancellation when a Centrebus employee got on the bus and made an announcement.
He said: “I went to check it wasn’t an April Fools’. I was horrified.
“Four years ago we moved to Barrowby Gate from Ancaster and one of the first things we did was research the buses, and we were pleased there was a bus service.”
Another pensioner who made sure there was a good bus service before moving house is Douglas Gorin.
Mr Gorin, 81, moved into St Edmunds Court just under a year ago. He said: “I don’t have a car and it’s a bit far for me to walk into town because my knees are bad. I do rely on buses.
“The fact they are cutting it altogether on a Saturday, which is the day you go into town to do your weekend shopping and go to the market, is upsetting a lot of people. Most people are like me and haven’t got cars, and one lady has a husband in a wheelchair, so without buses they’re going to have a problem.”
He added: “The buses shouldn’t be there to make a lot of money, they should be there to provide a service. They are a lifeline for many people.”
Susan Squires, 75, uses the bus to visit her husband at the Newton House Care Home. She travels from Barrowby to Grantham, then jumps on the number 3 bus to the Barrowby Road care home.
Mrs Squires, of Westry Corner, Barrowby, said: “I won’t be able to get there. I always go on a Saturday, so it affects my husband as well.”
Susan Chamberlain, 65, of Barrowby Road, uses the bus every day, Monday to Saturday. She said: “When they stop [the Saturday service] it will hit me hard.”
David Saint, of Winchester Road, said the busy service is known as the ‘fun bus’, where many of the passengers know each other, having met on the bus. “Everyone knows everyone,” he said, “and we have a laugh and a gossip
He added: “Me and my family are affected a lot because we’ve got a disabled daughter in her mid-50s. My wife is 80 in a few weeks. I’ve just turned 78 and we struggle to walk into town now on a Saturday. We always catch the bus back with the shopping - it’s uphill.
“If they do stop the buses it will mean getting the car out and it’s another car going into town and parking.
“I think it’s disgusting - it’s always the old people who are suffering.
“If we don’t take a stand we’re going to lose buses altogether.”
For 75-year-old Pauline Clamp, travelling on the bus on a Saturday is a social experience for her as she lost her husband several years ago.
Mrs Clamp, of Rochester Drive, said: “I meet people on the bus.
“We’re all very disappointed.
“They give you a bus pass then take the service away.”
Centrebus runs the service and several others which are also going to be cut or withdrawn altogether.
This has prompted action from Lincolnshire County Council, which is responsible for transport, to consider replacement services in some cases - including, it says, the number 3.
Executive member for highways and transport Councillor Richard Davies said: “Centrebus is making a range of cuts to their Grantham services, and we share residents’ frustrations with this.
“The majority of these services are run on a purely commercial basis, and it would be unfair to lay the blame at our door.
“In fact, we have decided to step in and look for replacement services to fill the gaps, so residents aren’t left in the lurch.
“It made sense to take this opportunity to also review the services we contracted to Centrebus, including the Saturday service 3 to Barrowby Gate, and deal with everything in one go.
“We are also looking to see if buses can run through the Market Place, so people can be dropped closer to where they want to be, helping support local businesses.
“We will be assessing the bids over the next week or so, so at this stage we can’t say how this will affect the cost of subsidising bus services in Grantham.
“That won’t be known until tenders have been received, assessed and awarded.
“We look forward to launching the new services.”
Centrebus was approached for a comment but the Journal did not receive a response by the time of going to press.