Cuts to bus service ‘terrible’ for elderly

The Ashton Memorial at Williamson Park, Lancaster.
The Ashton Memorial at Williamson Park, Lancaster.

Pensioners will be “trapped in their own homes” after a vital bus service is slashed, claims a regular bus user.

The Number 18 from Lancaster Bus Station to Williamson Park, Lancaster Farms prison and Freehold will be cut from an hourly 7am to 6pm service to just three full services per day from May 4, the last one at 3.15pm.

Operators Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire said it was due to low passenger numbers of around 300 per week.

But a regular user of the service, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “To me this is terrible.

“What happens to the people who work in the town and do not finish until after this time?

“I have spoken to some old people who have to dig into their pensions for a taxi as no way can they walk up the hill. It will trap them in their own homes.”

Jim Davies from Lancaster Bus Users Group has called for Lancashire County Council to step in.

“Where the commercial bus service is seen to be inadequate, the county council has a responsibility – indeed a duty – to step in and finance a replacement or complementary service,” he said.

“The number 18 is a vital service for local residents, particularly those in the Moorlands area for which it is the only form of public transport and the only bus service to Williamson Park and Lancaster Leisure Park. Visitors and staff at Lancaster Farms Prison will also be affected.”

Richard Blaikie from Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire said: “All Lancaster services have come under scrutiny as we have now operated them commercially for over a year.

“I am sure your readers appreciate that buses cannot run on fresh air and we need to be able to survive in a difficult operating environment, with each of the counties that we work for cutting both their subsidised services and their rates of reimbursement for concessionary fares.”

Andrew Varley, public transport manager for Lancashire County Council, said: “We appreciate there will be an impact upon passengers, however in the current financial climate Lancashire County Council is not in a position to provide extra resources to fund any replacement journeys.”