Bus firms cough up cash for return of timetables

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TRADITIONAL bus timetables are set to return to the Lancaster district after bus companies agreed to stump up part of the cost.

Lancashire County Council started to withdraw bus timetables from stops across the county in April, saving just £100,000 of the £205m it has budgeted to cut by 2014.

That sparked anger among bus users, and in particular elderly people.

But now the county council has said it will re-instate around 3,000 of the 4,000 bus timetables in Lancashire, and it is understood that 310 of these will be in the Lancaster district.

The county council will fund timetables at 124 of these stops, and the rest will be paid for by bus operators. County Coun Sam Riches, for Lancaster East, has welcomed the news.

She said: “The current requirement to use the internet or premium rate phone and text numbers to find bus times is unpopular, difficult for some people to use, and risks putting people off bus travel.

“It is great news that bus operators are willing

to take on some of the responsibility, but the county council should have ensured that this transition happened invisibly, with timetables maintained at bus stops throughout.”

County Coun Tim Ashton, cabinet member for highways and transport, said that the county council was close to coming to an agreement on costs with 17 bus companies in Lancashire. He said: “Initially, we approached the bus companies and said ‘isn’t it time you helped out?’

“We never had a response, so we started withdrawing the bus timetables.

“Obviously that caused a reaction from the bus companies, and they came to talk to us.

“We’re now very close to an agreement that will pay for about 3,000 timetables across the county, and we’re working with the operators to figure out which are the most used stops.

“We realise how important these timetables are, but it wouldn’t have been right for the tax-payers of Lancashire to carry on paying for this service, and it’s only right that bus companies who make the profits contribute towards the timetables.”

Coun Ashton said that the county council would continue to print the bus timetables in-house at cost price.