by simongalton on 19 April, 2017
Further to the large number of emails and letters received in recent weeks about the decision by Arriva to withdraw the 56 bus from this Saturday this update sets out the latest situation. In response to the announcement by Arriva a petition signed by over 700 local residents was sent to the County Council and 200 people attended a public meeting on 6th April at Fernvale School. At the meeting the representative from Arriva made clear that their decision had been taken on commercial grounds and there was no prospect of it being reviewed in the short term. The County Council Officer at the meeting explained that the Council could no longer afford to replace non-commercial services on a like for like basis due to funding cuts, but they did have a responsibility to meet “social needs” and had invited bus companies to submit tenders for some form of replacement service.
I have received confirmation from the Council today (19 April) that the outcome of the tender process is now complete and they have accepted a tender from Arriva to run a limited service down Station Lane and round Pulford Drive and Somerby Road. This will be achieved by diverting the new 55 service from Scraptoft Village centre with the Council meeting the additional cost of routing the bus down Station Lane. However the bus will then travel into the City via Scraptoft Lane rather than Station Road and the A47 as it does at present. This means that Station Road will no longer be served by a bus service which I know will be a huge disappointment to bus users in the Fern Close, Charnwood Drive and Anthony Drive area. The Council says that bus users will have a choice of catching the 55 from the corner of Somerby Road or the 747 on the A47 opposite Coles Nursery. In reality I know this is not a practical alternative for a number of elderly people due to the distance involved. I have requested details of existing dial a ride services and will make these available to residents in the areas furthest away from a bus stop but I appreciate this is not a substitute for a proper bus service.
The tender accepted by the Council provides for 4 journeys a day operating in each direction 6 days a week. The first bus into Leicester will be around 7am with further buses around 10am, 12pm and 4pm and complementary return journeys. Notices will be posted on bus stops in the next day or so confirming the details. It is hoped the new service will start on Saturday but this is subject to the registration process which is controlled by the Traffic Commissioner (a Government Agency). Whilst this is clearly a reduction on the present frequency of service this was the only tender received which falls within the Council’s affordability limits. It is also worth noting that a number of bus routes are being changed or withdrawn in Leicestershire on 22nd April and as a far as I am aware, this is the only route affected that the Council has been subsidise.
I would like to thank the residents who organised the petition and helped collect names in support of retaining a bus service. Regrettably the outcome is that Thurnby and parts of Scraptoft will have a significantly reduced bus service and some parts of the community will not be served at all. However the Council has provided funding to retain a limited service and we can monitor the impact of the changes on bus users in the next few months and make the case for extra journeys where there is sufficient demand.
Please contact me if you have any queries or need more information on how the changes affect you.Leave a comment