Anger at electronic timetable switch-off at Nelson bus/rail station

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PEOPLE using Nelson’s bus and rail interchange are finding the process more confusing after the electronic timetable boards were switched off.

From December 1st last year, boards at the three-year-old transport centre were turned off after a decision by Lancashire County Council to cut costs.

Instead, people who don’t know bus or train times have been using paper timetables or other methods such as getting information from smartphones or in advance of travelling on the Internet at home.

However, Pendle residents have raised concerns that not everybody has access to the Internet, owns a smartphone or finds timetables easy to use, adding the decision to turn off the timetables has led to confusion.

Usman Dar, a Brierfield resident, said: “I think the boards were good. The first thing I’d do was to look up at it and now it’s blank. I got confused the other day. They’ve changed the times of the number six and I wasn’t aware and was 15 minutes late.”

Michaela McKenzie, from Barnoldswick, said: “I think it’s absolutely awful. Not many people can read the timetables. I’ve been getting on buses for years now so I know the times but nobody would know the 28 bus goes through Earby.”

A Barrowford resident, who didn’t want to be named, added: “The people who make the decisions are not the ones who will be stood waiting for a bus at 8 a.m.”

Not only have the bus and train times disappeared but the electronic clocks are also to be switched off in the coming weeks and Coun. Mohammed Iqbal, who described the decision in November as “penny-pinching”, understands frustration.

Coun. Iqbal said: “It was a silly decision. As a result, Nelson Area Committee and Town Council have set aside money from their own capital budgets to fund the operation of these boards.

“They are currently having meetings with bus timetable operators and councillors from Burnley, as a two-pronged force, to try to get the boards back on.”

Malcolm Barron, lead member for buses at Lancashire County Council, said: “I accept any reduction in services as a result of the need to save £179m. over the course of the current budget will affect the communities we serve but we have no alternative if we are to balance the books.

“The county council will save £47,000 over two years as a result of not having renewed the current contract for the bus information displays.

“However, this figure does not reflect the fact some of the existing monitors have become outdated and obsolete and in fact we would have to spend something in the region of £70,000 over the same period to provide the same level of service.

“The paper timetables will continue to be updated and are just one of a number of alternative ways of finding out bus times, but the same cannot be said of the less publicly visible services such as support for vulnerable people which this saving will help to protect.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council added they are currently sourcing new clocks for the stations where they are needed. At the Nelson interchange, there is currently only one in the information office but the county council say they are working towards putting a replacement in on the concourse.