A decision to reduce a bus service between Stamford and Oakham has outraged passengers.
Centrebus, which provides the number 19 service, said online earlier this week that it was “withdrawing” a section of the route between the two towns from August 13 as it wants to “streamline its services.”
It said the decision has been made as a result of “rising costs, reducing customer numbers and worsening traffic congestion.”
But after Rutland County Council and Rutland MP Alan Duncan (Con) released statements yesterday saying the service will not be withdrawn but instead significantly reduced, the company said a revised timetable had not yet been “agreed”.
A spokesman for Rutland County Council said Centrebus wanted to remove early and late buses from Monday to Friday, along with all Saturday services.
According to the council, this would mean the earliest arrival in Stamford from Oakham would be 8.12am and Oakham from Stamford 8.50am. The latest departure from Oakham to Stamford will be 4.05pm and from Stamford to Oakham 4.55pm.
Users of the service consider it a lifeline and are appealing to Centrebus to reconsider its decision.
Linda Stubbs, who lives in Oakham, said: “I use it to get to the hospital and the job centre and to get to the shops. It is a real lifeline here.”
Jackie Towl said she was frustrated that Centrebus did not consult with passengers before cutting the service.
And Anne-Marie Edwards contacted us on Facebook to say: “I don’t always use the service. Both my mother who is a pensioner and my daughter both use it many times a week.
“To them it’s a lifeline. If it wasn’t for the bus they would be stuck at home. At the moment as a family we need it even more as I’m unable to drive due to medical issues.”
Michael Haley, mayor of Oakham, said he was disappointed to hear the service could be removed and said he would make representations to the county council if residents complained to the town council about the issue.
He said: “It is a shame and disappointing. A lot of people use that bus - it is good service.”
And Mr Duncan said: “We need an effective rural bus service in Rutland which connects people to our thriving towns and villages. Good public transport options provide a vital lifeline to those who are otherwise unable to get around and lead independent lives. I will be following this matter very closely.”
The number 19 service currently runs between Nottingham and Peterborough.
As part of the changes, the number 19’s route between Melton Mowbray and Oakham will be replaced by an extension of Centrebus’ RF1 service, providing through links from Corby and Uppingham to Melton Mowbray.
According to Centrebus’ website, there will be changes to RF1 service journey times.
The service will continue to operate hourly between Stamford and Peterborough, with a slightly revised timetable.
In a statement published on the Centrebus website, Matt Evans, managing director of the company, said: “Rising costs, reducing passenger numbers and worsening traffic congestion has led us to make this difficult decision in an attempt to streamline the business and as a result close our depot at Saxby in Leicestershire.
“Discussions with our affected employees and other stakeholders are ongoing.”
As part of Centrebuses’ streamlining of services, it will also be making cuts to its number 8 service which runs between Loughborough and Grantham.All the changes will come into effect on August 13.