LETTER OF THE WEEK: Make an effort to look at some alternative bus solutions
Next month all rural bus routes and some town routes in our area will be withdrawn as loss makers causing hardship to many people who depend on them.
However, a bus route does not lose money of itself because it has no costs.
What loses money is when the costs of a bus vehicle and driver are not met by passenger revenue.
So instead of cutting out loss makers, why not employ some joined up thinking to ascertain what kind of bus network can be established which is sustainable in the long term, involves no additional resources, and yet caters for the majority of bus users.
Instead what we have had is a decade of muddle.
A good example is the Berrymoor service in Wellingborough which since 2005 has had operator changes, route number changes, reductions in service hours, changes in frequency and changes of route.
Small wonder that passengers have drifted away in comparison with the Queensway and Hemmingwell routes that have kept a fixed route, times and frequency so that residents know when and where buses are running.
For Wellingborough, a minimum sustainable service might be every 30 minutes to Queensway and Hemmingwell, a 30-minute circular service to Finedon and Irthlingborough going alternately via Finedon Road or Sidegate Lane, and hourly services to Berrymoor, Barnwell, Irchester/Rushden and Wollaston.
The vehicles saved could be used to provide a basic service at irregular intervals to Bozeat, Harrowden, Redhill Grange, etc.
Commercial services can be “tweaked” to support local services by restoring the former X46 diversion via Queensway and the X47 diversion via Kingsway which would also provide direct services to both Northampton and Rushden Lakes.
In Rushden, extension of the 14 to Rushden Lakes (replacing part of the present 49) would link Grangeway with the shopping centre.
While some cuts are inevitable, it does not seem any effort has been made to establish a sustainable bus network with buses considered on a route by route basis instead of looking at the needs of our area as a whole.
I am sure a far more useful and comprehensive service than is now proposed can be afforded and I hope Northamptonshire County Council and our local councils will sit down with Stagecoach and devise a bus service that better meets the needs of the public within their financial restrictions.