Axe threatened bus routes win reprieve

Parish councillors Phil James and Martin Delaney at the bus stop on Preston Road, Inskip.
Parish councillors Phil James and Martin Delaney at the bus stop on Preston Road, Inskip.

“People power” has been credited with saving rural bus services threatened with the axe.

Campaigners are celebrating after Lancashire County Council announced it will subsidise newly altered bus routes meaning villagers in the rural area will be reconnected with Preston and Blackpool.

From Monday, the Number 76, which connects Great Eccleston with St Annes, will have its route extended to connect the village with Blackpool, while the Number 80 service will return from April 14 - joining up Elswick and Great Eccleston with Preston.

The villages were left with no public transport links when the Number 80 service was terminated after Classic Bus North West, which had taken over the route in the wake of council cuts, suspended trading.

Coun Paul Hayhurst, who represents Fylde West, said: “Suddenly this part of the world has got buses again, everybody’s delighted. People power has worked and the good thing is people can now get to hospital, the health centre, school and places of employment.

“I’d like to thank (council transport portfolio holder) Coun John Fillis who listened to people from the area and came up with this excellent solution for us.

“I’d like to thank everybody that wrote in, it shows what it means to the community getting that bus back.”

Coun Phil James, chairman of Inskip-with-Sowerby Parish Council, said: “Naturally the parish council and the village as a whole are delighted the subsidy has been re-instated.

“A big thank you to Coun Hayhurst for all his efforts.”

The county council had planned to save £3.8m over the next two years by withdrawing subsidies which enable certain rural, evening and Sunday services to operate.

Now the Number 80 bus will travel between Preston and Myerscough College.

Coun James added: “There is going to be a reduced service from April 1-13 so this is going to have an impact for those two weeks but it will be up and running for April 14.”

Coun Fillis said: “We’re making changes to a number of our subsidised buses which serve Preston, Fylde and Wyre to fill in the gaps left by commercial services being withdrawn by bus companies.

“In the current budgetary climate we can in no way afford to fund direct replacements for these services, so we’re making carefully planned adjustments to reduce the impact of the bus companies’ commercial decisions.

“These changes are needed to ensure that whole areas which would have no, or much poorer, public transport links, will stay connected to the wider network which is vital for people to get to work and make hospital appointments.”