The wheels on the bus will not go round and round – in the afternoons that is.
Herberts Travel, which runs the two bus services that take passengers around Biggleswade, is axing all services after the 2.30pm departure from the bus station.
The company cites lack of income as the reason for the change, which will come into affect on Monday (March 11), adding that the majority of customers will not be affected.
The buses leaving the bus station at 4pm, 4.30pm and 4.50pm will be stopped. Stops are at various roads in Biggleswade including London Road, Mead End, Saxon Drive and Stratton Way.
Barbara Ireland of Holme Court Avenue said: “I think it’s appalling. A lot of seniors go to hospital and to walk to Holme Court Avenue or wherever is a long way for people.
“I don’t think quite a lot of people can do it to be honest.
“If I go to Bedford at 9am I’ve got to be sure that I get back on a bus at noon to be home without walking.”
She said that the majority of senior citizens would not object to paying a nominal amount for the buses in order to keep them running.
Jean Simmons, also of Holme Court Avenue, was equally critical about the changes. She said: “It’s very difficult because you can get down the town and in no way can you get back.
“I have an arthritis group at the health centre in the afternoon. It starts at 2.30pm and finishes at 3.30pm. How we are going to get back I do not know.
“I’ve written to Herberts Travel and I’m getting friends to write to them.”
Abigail Chipperfield said: “My mum is a frequent user of the Herbert’s 185 bus service that takes her from the Saxon Gate estate to the town centre and retail park. Her friends on the Saxon Gate estate also use the same service.
“We are shocked and quite upset to hear that they are reducing the service from Monday. They have introduced the changes so quickly, which doesn’t give people long to complain about the cuts before they are introduced on Monday.
What are these residents supposed to do? How are pensioners going to get home from the town or the retail park when there is no bus service? How will they get back from the doctors when they have an appointment in the afternoon?
“I am absolutely outraged at these cuts; whilst I am a rare bus user myself I know lots of people who do rely on this service. I think it is such an important service to the young and the elderly, I also think that this decision will put some elderly off going out as they will either not be able to get home. It’s important for the elderly and people who live on their own to go out as much as possible and these bus service cuts are going to put people off.”
Herberts Travel director Dave Dougall said: In March 2010, the local authority (Central Bed Council), as part of its cost cutting exercises, withdrew the funding for this popular service. For the last two years Herberts Travel has run the town service on a purely commercial basis.
“The majority of our loyal customers are pensioners and others who travel with concession bus passes and therefore the majority of the revenue for the service comes from local authority’s concessionary bus pass scheme.
“The revenue from this scheme, in line with the majority of local authorities up and down the country, has seen a steady decline. “We did approach the local authority recently about getting some funding relating to these later runs but unfortunately the local authority stated that in the current economic climate funds are just simply not available.
“Our challenge therefore was to reduce the overall cost of providing the service without adversely affecting the service itself too much.
“Our historical records clearly show that the majority (95 per cent) of our customers travel before 3pm, after which the numbers drop significantly and at times the bus travels with very few, if any, passengers on board.
“Whilst not ideal, it was decided that, under the circumstances, the best way to reduce costs without affecting the majority of our customers was to cut out the last three runs, which carry very few passengers.”
Barbara added that Herberts Travel had not publicised the changes well. She only found out about the changes at the start of the week.
She said: “We were on the bus and it was just from somebody’s dropped remark that this was going to happen that I found out. The driver must have heard and told us to look on the outside of the bus widow and there was a notice a bit more than A4.
“I wouldn’t have even known it was there. WHen we were coming home we were given a print out.”
Dave said: “The town service has always been run on a personal basis with a common core of people using it regularly. We therefore took the decision to inform the passengers of the changes personally as they used the service.
“A sign is in place at the door of the vehicle informing passengers of the changes as they come on board with the driver handing out new timetables. The local authority has at all times been informed of our intentions.”
The company’s website at www.herberts-travel.co.uk was updated to reflect the changes after being contacted by the Chronicle on Tuesday (March 5).
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Weather for Biggleswade
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 14 C to 24 C
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Temperature: 12 C to 18 C
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Wind direction: East