Preston Bus have responded to thousands of people who signed a petition calling for their decision to end the Orbit bus service be reversed.Advertisement
The firm, owned by Rotala, has been under-fire for cutting the circular route around Preston.
Emma Caffrey’s petition had attracted more than 2,000 signatures since the announcement in February about the service.
The withdrawal of the service was originally blamed on the amount of congestion throughout the route but the bus firm now appears to be blaming Preston City Council.
In a statement from Preston Bus Management they say:
“Dear Petitioners, we are grateful that you have all taken the trouble to communicate your views in support of this petition. We are always keen to hear what our customers have to say and to respond to those concerns whenever we can.
In our response we would like to clarify two aspects of the decision we have made to re-configure the 88A/C route:
1. The question of subsidy: the 88A/C service for many years benefited from a considerable subsidy first from Lancashire County Council and subsequently from Preston City Council. The subsidy was provided to enable Preston Bus to run a bus service along those parts of the 88A/C route which would otherwise not have justified a commercial bus service. The subsidy from Preston City Council has now ended. The ending of the subsidy has forced Preston Bus to re-evaluate the 88A/C route. The 88A/C route must now run on a fully commercial basis and be sustainable on that basis in the long term.
2. Reconfiguring the 88A/C service: the decision we have taken is to withdraw that part of the service which runs along Lea Road (where there is little residential housing and consequently low demand for a bus service, and two bridges which restrict the type of vehicle we can use) and another part which runs along Bluebell Way (where demand is also limited and there is often serious congestion). All the other parts of the former 88A/C route (approximately 80% of it) will be covered by other Preston Bus services which have been reconfigured in order to achieve this service coverage. The new service layout should also be more reliable as it avoids the “hotspots” which currently cause delays. In many cases the services will be more frequent than before.
We recognise how vital the bus service provided by the 88A/C is to the residents of Preston. We have ensured in our reconfigured services that as much of the former 88 A/C route as possible retains a frequent bus service.
Thank you. Preston Bus Management.”
Preston Bus has been accused of ‘hiding behind’ the cutting back of subsidies from the county council, which has withdrawn £5m from routes in the county, by Larches councillor Mark Yates who has the bus running through his ward.
Cllr Yates said he understood the firm did receive money from the city council but only through Section 106 agreements – where developers pay the council for community improvements after housing developments are built.
Dozens of bus routes across Preston and Lancashire stopped operating on Monday after the ending of many subsidies from the council. Preston Bus announced a number of changes to its services, including partial replacement of the Orbit service with new routes.
What do you make of Preston Bus’ response? Did you use the Orbit? Let us know your view in the comments below