A CAMPAIGN has been launched to revoke changes made to Barnoldswick’s town bus service after claims the alterations have left elderly people in the town distressed, confused and having to fork out on taxi fares.
More than 500 people in the town have signed a petition which will be handed to county bosses next week.
Bus routes and times have been altered to extend the Transdev service to the Fosters Arms area, but fed up residents say it has caused chaos. The service around Monkroyd Avenue has been reduced to an hourly service from every 30 minutes and now only travels in an anti-clockwise direction.
Audrey Smith, who runs a pensioners’ pop-in group in Barnoldswick and has helped launch the petition, said she has seen the effects of the changes.
“Most of the concern is for the elderly people, who rely on the buses for shopping and for getting to the dentist and doctor. Now the service is only running every hour they are having to pay for taxis home. I’ve also seen the drivers wasting time and petrol because no extra people are even getting on the bus around the Fosters Arms.
“It is not just the elderly, but also children trying to get home from school. This has literally made people poorly with worry and unfortunately it has been done without any thought.”
Michelle Johnson-Chadwick, who works in the Cafe on the Square, said she was helping to run the campaign after seeing so many customers in tears over the alterations.
She said: “I do not want the bus down to the Fosters Arms to stop completely, but I think there can be some compromise somewhere and I feel strongly that this matter needs looking at more thoroughly.
“There are a lot of elderly people who have bought houses or bungalows in certain areas of town just because they are on a regular bus route. It is seriously affecting different clubs, groups and businesses that people have been attending for years.”
Coates ward councillor Marjorie Adams said as a regular bus user she has also seen the problems caused by the changes.
She said: “The argument is not about the service down to Fosters but the Monkroyd service and no-one seems to be interested in discussing these problems.”
Tim Gornall, Lancashire County Council’s bus and supported transport manager, said: “The timetables and the route of the B1 and B2 services were revised to maintain reliability and provide new travel opportunities.
“The service has been experiencing everyday reliability issues with the route. Drivers have come up against severe problems with negotiating the tight roads and manoeuvring around parked vehicles. On regular occasions, passengers were being severely inconvenienced by the delays.
“To improve reliability, journey times have been increased and the route has been extended to the Fosters Arms area of the town. With an increase in running times and the need to ensure a regular hourly timetable, it is not possible to maintain the same level of service to all sections of the route.
“The service on the western side of the town has been reduced, around the Monkroyd Avenue/Cavendish Street area, to hourly in an anti-clockwise direction only. This is the weaker side of the route in terms of passenger usage and accounts for around 30% of all trips made.
“The more popular route on the eastern side of the town around Coates Avenue and Coates Lane retains an hourly service in each direction.”
County councillor Keith Bailey had welcomed the service changes, but said they could have been better communicated.
He said: “The town bus service is wholly subsided by Lancashire County Council and as such under this subsidy has to take no longer than one hour to do its route or circuit.
“As I’ve said before, when we were approached by residents of the Fosters Arms/Gisburn Road area for an extension to the route we had to do this within both the monetary and time constraints set out in our contract. I feel this is a much welcomed addition to the service. I do however think the bus operator could have advertised the new timetable better giving people a chance to plan their journeys.
“After all this is a town bus service and should be enjoyed by as many residents of the town as possible.”