Villages lose out on bus services

The bus station at Borwick
The bus station at Borwick

Bus services will no longer run through two north Lancashire villages after Stagecoach described the route as “unsustainable”.

From the end of March, buses will no longer serve Borwick and Priest Hutton, causing concern in the communities that people, especially the elderly, would become more isolated, with other rural villages at risk of the same fate.

David Scott, chairman of Borwick Parish Council, said that there had been no consultation with residents, after Stagecoach published its new timetable for the 555 route between Lancaster and Kendal.

Stagecoach said that the number of passengers boarding “on the diversion” into Borwick and Priest Hutton averaged less than one per day.

Mr Scott said: “There has been no consultation with local people and the matter only came to light with the publication of new bus timetables.

“The reason put forward by their Commercial Manager is that there is little use and travelling off the major roads has the potential to disrupt the timetable - thus affecting longer distance travelers.

Currently only two buses come through the villages per day but we feel that the village residents, particularly the elderly, will become more isolated with the withdrawal of the already infrequent service.

“Access to the shops of Kendal, Lancaster and Carnforth will become more difficult. The bus company are not maintaining a basic rural service.

“I also have major concerns that Stagecoach will use this argument to stop the bus service running through the other small villages it serves - which happen to be off a major road, like Levens and Heversham. This will affect many people in the South Lakes area.”

Michael Sanderson, commercial manager for Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire said: “Given the low number of people using the diversion, the service was sadly unsustainable. To consult on this would only have offered false hope that the decision could be reversed.

“I have to make decisions based on what is right for the majority of our customers. In this case the act of diverting through Borwick and Priest Hutton can affect the punctuality of our core service which is used by many hundreds of people a day. This is against the benefit to very few users of the 555 from the diversion, in some cases this number can be zero.”