Slashes to bus service raises concern for rural residents - The Leamington Observer

Slashes to bus service raises concern for rural residents

FEARS have been voiced bus passengers could be left stranded when services are cut in Warwickshire.

Stagecoach Midlands has been in discussions with Warwickshire County Council over planned changes in the new year – but transport chiefs are remaining tight-lipped until routes are finalised.

County councillor Keith Kondakor said: “The cuts come at a time when services are needed more than ever.

“It seems the company is chasing more lucrative services elsewhere and the rural areas are the ones which will suffer.

“Stagecoach has had a lot of problems with staffing and it just seems to be a downward spiral. Buses need to be regulated differently and MPs need to be pressured to focus on public transport and not driving and cars.

“A lot of people depend on bus services – they are used by students, elderly and those who can’t afford to drive.”

Fellow green councillor Jonathan Chilvers feared the cuts could be among the biggest the county has seen.

He said: “It risks leaving some people reliant on them stranded.

“Government needs to devolve powers to regions so that they can be regulated and invested in like in London where there is proper joined up regulation.”

Stagecoach confirmed changes would be made to a’ small number of routes’ to ‘reflect demand’ and ensure a ‘more stable bus network’ would be delivered.

The cuts come hot on the heels of fare increases for school children and students. Councillors argued families were being punished for government funding cuts.

Coun Helen Adkins said: “Whilst we sympathise with Stagecoach in that it has had £150,000 of government subsidies withdrawn, it is totally unacceptable and frankly unethical to make up that shortfall by hitting families and young people in the way Stagecoach have by increasing their fares so considerably and abruptly.”

The cuts were set to be discussed further at a meeting this week.

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