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Preston bus routes set to be scrapped

Posted on - 10th February, 2011 - 9:01am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Campaigns, News, People

Two city bus routes will be scrapped as part of a plan to cut £300,000 of funding from Preston’s public transport network, a councillor has told Blog Preston.

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The 88A and 88C Orbit Bus routes face closure as the city council refuses to provide money for the maintenance and running of the service.

Cllr Tom Burns, Labour councillor for Fishwick, said he had heard Rotala was planning on cutting the Orbit Bus routes.

Speaking to Blog Preston, he said: “Rotala are not going to renew the license.  If they don’t do that it means that they are not going to run it.”

Mr Burns also spoke about the damaging effect the closures would have on the elderly and poor. He said: “The people who rely on this service to get to schools and hospitals will be hit hardest.

“The frequency of the 88A and the 88C was designed to encourage people to use public transport and to get cars off the road as part of a green agenda.”

He added the reason why the council was not willing to fund the subsidy for the routes, which run every 15 minutes, was because they were too expensive to maintain.

The affected areas would include the city centre, Royal Preston Hospital, Deepdale and the Red Scar Industrial Estate.

‘Prisoners’

Last week, Cllr Frank De Molfetta and Cllr Jonathan Saksena started a petition to save the service, which has attracted over 500 signatures.

Mr De Molfetta said: “If Rotala doesn’t renew the service then elderly people will be imprisoned in their homes.”

People who work on the Red Scar Industrial estate could be amongst the worst affected. Dawn Coombes, 38, a payroll clerk at Menzies Distribution in Red Scar, is a single mother from Lea who has two sons.

Miss Coombes has also launched an online petition to try to save the service. She said: “For manythis route is not only a lifeline, but a way to get to and from work. If this route is axed, travel time will double and travel cost will double, as Preston Bus don’t run a bus up to Longridge Road, Red Scar.”

The ambitious petition aims to attract 10,000 supporters. It was launched in January on www.petitiononline.co.uk and has so far received more than 40 signatures.

Liberal Democrats in Preston have called on Rotala and the county council to ensure the routes are not scrapped.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Cottam and Ingol Bill Winlow said: “Rotala have only just taken over buses in Preston and we are concerned they may not continue with this route, because of the removal of the county council subsidy from the non-profit making part of the route to Bluebell Way.

“We will be looking at our budget proposals to see if we can subsidise this service for a short time to enable Rotala to make this service pay for itself. Bus companies have to serve the public as well as operating at a profit.

“It is very difficult for a bus company to respond quickly to a decision of this sort at a time like this. Indeed, it seems wrong for the cabinet member to have signed off the decision before the county council has ratified it at its budget meeting on February 17th.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Ashton Mark Jewell added: “The Orbital bus route serves many of the residents I represent. Many have said to me they do not want to lose this service, because they can get to the hospital and shops directly.”

“Before the Orbital route, residents had to go into the city centre to come back out to where they wanted to get to. It was a nightmare. This is a popular route and must be retained.”

Rotala, which bought Preston Bus from Stagecoach last month after an intervention from the competition commission, were not immediately available to comment

Areas affected:

  • Larches and Lea
  • Royal Preston Hospital
  • City Centre
  • Deepdale
  • Ribbleton
  • Ingol
  • Cottam
  • The docks
  • Longsands and Bluebell Way in Fulwood
  • Brookfield
  • Red Scar industrial estate

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