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Proposed bus cuts could leave thousands stranded
THOUSANDS of Cumbrian people face isolation as council budget cuts threaten bus routes.
Cumbria County Council has proposed to stop subsidising services in a bid to save £1.9million for each of the next three years.
The move could potentially affect 43 day-time services, including the Kendal town 44, Windermere town 597 and Ulverston town 70, 17 evening services and 10 on a Sunday.
The plans were revealed as part of council plans to save £80million by 2017, and are out to public consultation until January 20.
Some Hallgarth residents who rely on the 44 bus said its loss would ‘cut off a life-line’.
Madge Walker, of Hallgarth Circle, said: “I go into town every day on that bus – I cannot walk that far, especially with shopping.
“I would have to wait until Wednesday for the community bus, and I would be stuck the rest of the time. It would be life changing.”
District councillor for the area, Coun Rob Boden, said people were furious about lack of information, and he has arranged public meetings at Hallgarth Community Centre for next week, Tuesday at 3pm and Wednesday at 7pm.
Coun Boden said that very few people were aware of the potential cuts to services.
“If I had known I would have put posters up and encouraged people to express their views. Now we are already six weeks into the consultation period so have had to try and come up with something quickly.”
Bus operators Travellers Choice and Woofs of Sedbergh also said they had not been notified about the plans.
County Council spokesman Gareth Cosslett said: “We are writing to all our bus operators and circulating questionnaires on all of our subsidised bus routes for passengers. But we are relying on the operators to distribute these.”
He added that transport services run by communities could provide an alternative option for passengers.
“Lots of people live in areas where there are no bus services and they find another way to get where they need to.”
Matthew Sutton, director of Kirkby Lonsdale Coaches, which operates the Kendal 44 and the 106 Kendal to Penrith routes, said his company was looking at options to tun the 44 service commercially.
But he did not think the 106 service would be viable unless it was subsidised. “It will be a kick to our turnover but I know there is not much I can do,” he said.
“The customers are angry though and the two drivers could lose their jobs.”
Robinson’s Coaches also said it was possible that their Appleby to Kendal and Appleby to Penrith services would not be commercially viable unless they were subsidised.
Other possible firms affected include Stagecoach, who said they would consider all possible options once decisions were made, and Lecks Travel said it had ‘not quite got to grips’ with what could happen.
Have your say about any of the council budget proposals at www.cumbria.gov.uk/ourfuture
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