Bus services saved after £2m U-turn

Sunday services will remain on the number 5 Carnforth to Overton bus.
Sunday services will remain on the number 5 Carnforth to Overton bus.

Bus services set for the axe have been saved after county transport bosses found £2m to keep them on the road.

The number 89 Lancaster to Knott End bus, the number 33 Bare Circular in Morecambe and the 51 Carnforth to Silverdale were originally going altogether but will now continue, albeit with a reduced daytime only service.

The Lancaster District Bus Users Group hailed the U-turn but are “disappointed” that many Sunday and evening buses across the district will still get the chop.

Campaigners fought to save the threatened bus routes after Lancashire County Council announced plans to cut funding as part of a £65m savings package.

A spokesman for Lancaster District Bus Users Group said they welcomed this week’s decision.

He said: “Whilst we are naturally disappointed that many evening and Sunday journeys will be lost we would be interested in working with parish councils or local communities to explore ways of restoring these via alternative funding sources.”

Coun Charlie Edwards from Bare, who had collected 2,000 signatures on a petition to save the Bare Circular service used by many pensioners and disabled people to get to Morecambe town centre, said: “I am chuffed to bits that the service will be maintained.”

“I am so grateful to the many many individuals and businesses in Bare and wider afield who helped to raise awareness on this issue. This is a great day for Bare residents.”

The 5, 7, 10, 11, 33, 42, 49, 51, 55, 80, 81 and 89 services are among those to still suffer reductions. But there will be now be an extra early evening journey on Stagecoach’s Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale 81 service and the firm has also announced.It will provide the number 5 Carnforth to Overton service on Sundays after all, extend service 49 beyond Halton to the Kellets, Carnforth and Warton, and run some extra early evening 
services on Lancaster city routes. The county council had been due to withdraw funding from 113 routes county-wide from April. Bus companies have since decided to operate 40 of these routes on a commercial basis and the £2m will fund an extra 28 routes, but this still means 45 services across Lancashire will end.

“The fund will support 28 routes to ensure people can get to work, do their shopping, and access education, health and other vital services,” said a county council spokesman.

The U-turn on county funding was suggested by a cross-party working group and rubber-stamped by County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport.

County Councillor Fillis said: “This has been a very difficult process that the all-party working group has had to get to grips with, to make the best of a bad situation.”

New timetables will come into force on April 3. For full details see HERE.