Changes will improve Cumbria's rural bus services claims Stagecoach
Last updated at 08:33, Friday, 25 March 2011
Stagecoach has unveiled changes to rural bus services in Cumbria, which will see improvements to many routes.
The announcement comes just weeks after Cumbria County Council announced it was cutting 19 subsidised services in response to reductions in government grant.
Stagecoach’s changes include a new Sunday link from Carlisle to Silloth, more buses from Carlisle to Blackwell and Durdar and extra summer journeys between Carlisle and Keswick via Caldbeck.
The 9am departure from Carlisle to Keswick via Wigton, which is popular with passengers visiting the Lake District for the day, will run later so that concessionary passes can be used.
The county council has ruled that passes will no longer be valid before 9.30am on weekdays from April 1.
Stagecoach is also renumbering some services to sidestep onerous European legislation.
Bus routes longer than 50 kilometres are now classed as long distance. This means that drivers cannot work more than five days a week and cannot work on their rest days.
But if they are split into shorter legs, carrying different route numbers, they are not classed as long distance even though passengers stay on the bus – the only thing that changes is the number on the front.
The 300 from Carlisle to Whitehaven, for example, will become the 300 Carlisle-Maryport then the 301/302 Maryport-Whitehaven. There will be no need to change buses in Maryport.
Phil Smith, operations director for Stagecoach North West, said: “If the services are not advertised as through services we can still use the domestic drivers hours’ regulations, which are better for staff.
“What we’re doing has been approved by Vosa, the government agency that oversees drivers’ hours.
“These regulations were never intended to apply to country bus routes. We need to keep the costs of operating these routes down to keep them economically viable.”
Meanwhile, county councillors have criticised their own council’s decision to cut 19 routes from May 1.
The changes, to save £340,000 a year, will see the complete withdrawal of some services including the 620 from Caldbeck to Carlisle and the 39 from Aspatria to Carlisle via Fletchertown and Great Orton.
Several villages will be left with no buses at all. They include Baggrow, Blencogo, Blennerhasset, Fletchertown, Great Musgrave, Great Orton, Ivegill, Moat, Skelton, Southwaite and Wreay.
The council says passengers can use the ‘Rural Wheels’ taxi service, which is charged at 35p a mile, although concessionary passes are not valid.
Independent councillor Robert Betton told the council’s Carlisle local committee this week that Rural Wheels would be too expensive for many people.
Conservative Val Tarbitt, who represents Longtown, asked for the service to Moat and Netherby to be reprieved. She said: “To those people who use it, it’s a vital lifeline.”
Committee chairman John Mallinson, the Conservative councillor for Stanwix and Irthington, was angry that officials had imposed the cuts without consulting councillors or passengers.
He said: “We are really, really depriving people. Not everybody has a car.”
Stagecoach’s new timetables will be included in the new Cumbria and Lakes Rider magazine, which should be available early in April.
The details ...
30/31 Maryport-Workington-Whitehaven-Thornhill/Fizington: New timetable with many changes but the overall frequency stays the same.
38 Carlisle-Silloth: New Sunday service, three journeys each way, runs April 10 to October 30.
66 Carlisle-Blackwell-Durdar: New timetable with more journeys.
73/73A/74 Carlisle-Caldbeck-Keswick: Extra bus from Carlisle to Keswick at 8.55am, daily April 11 to October 30, returning from Keswick at 6.20pm. Buses run as 74 between Carlisle and Caldbeck, and 73 (clockwise) and 73A (anti-clockwise) between Caldbeck and Keswick.
77/77A Honister Rambler: Reintroduced for summer, April 11 to October 30, same timetable as last year.
78 Keswick-Seatoller: Summer service starts April 11, same timetable as last year.
86 Keswick-Portinscale: Return journeys from Keswick at 10.11am and 1.11pm withdrawn.
106 Penrith-Shap-Kendal: To run as 107 between Penrith and Shap, and 106 between Shap and Kendal.
108 Penrith-Patterdale: Summer timetable starts April 11 with minor changes to Sunday service.
300/301 Carlisle-Wigton-Aspatria-Maryport-Whitehaven: Buses run as 300 between Carlisle and Maryport then 302 (via Lillyhall) or 301 (via Harrington) between Maryport and Whitehaven.
554 Carlisle-Keswick: 9am departure from Carlisle to leave after 9.30am so pensioners can use their concessionary passes. All buses to run as 553 between Carlisle and Wigton, then 554 from Wigton to Keswick.
555/556 Keswick-Grasmere-Ambleside-Windermere-Kendal-Lancaster: New timetable.
600 Carlisle-Wigton-Cockermouth-Whitehaven: Some changes to times. All buses to run as 600 between Carlisle and Cockermouth, then 601 between Cockermouth and Whitehaven.
685 Carlisle-Brampton-Haltwhistle-Hexham-Newcastle: Changes to Sunday timetable.
X4/X5 Workington-Cockermouth-Keswick Penrith: Changes to improve train connections at Penrith. More journeys serve Stainton. All buses to run as X4/X5 between Workington and Keswick, then as X50 between Keswick and Penrith.
X58 Maryport-Cockermouth-Keswick: Reintroduced for Easter, May and summer school holidays.
First published at 08:32, Friday, 25 March 2011
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
Have your say
Of course, running the 0900 Carlile to Keswick service at 0930 so that pensioners can use it both wrecks the connection at Keswick for services to Grasmere / Ambleside etc. and reduces the amount of time that actual fare paying passengers (remember us???) can have in the Lakes to go hill walking.I'm FED UP of public transport turning into a branch of Social Services. How about some consideration for those of us who pay the extortionate fares Stagecoach charge (Â£5.70 single from Carlisle to Penrith???) and whose fares are used to subsidise pensioners having nice days out "and it hasn't cost me a penny."
what happens if the driver of the split services forgets to change numbers is that driver legal and does the passenger have to pay twice?
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