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Relief after bus cut U-turn

Fylde coast residents opposed cuts to subsidised bus routes.

Fylde coast residents opposed cuts to subsidised bus routes.

Passengers today told of their relief after it was revealed funding for under-threat bus services would not be pulled – yet.

Vital routes through rural areas faced being shut down in the evenings and on Sundays but a public backlash forced County Hall bosses to rethink their plans, which were due to come into force from May.

But transport chiefs today said they can offer no guarantees that any of the county’s loss-making bus services will remain once their current contracts come to an end.

The U-turn, announced at a Lancashire County Council cabinet meeting yesterday, was today welcomed by those who fought against the cost-saving measure.

Fylde and Singleton councillor Maxine Chew said: “We had a lot of complaints, particularly from older people who rely on the buses.

“I was greatly relieved to hear the council changed its mind.

“If you live in an area and you haven’t got a public transport system, you have got a real hardship.

“It would mean you can’t live in the countryside unless you have a car.

“I think I speak for all the people living in rural areas when I say we are grateful – but, then again, we do pay our council tax and we do need something in return.”

Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, county council cabinet member for highways and transport John Fillis said: “The cuts have not been stopped – but we agreed to look at the needs of every bus route.

“People want us to take a greater role in running the buses. As far as they are concerned the system needs changing.

“When we announced the plans everybody thought it was a done deal.

“Now we will review each bus, although some may have to go if we can’t get enough people to use them.”

In some places, the council will look at merging or altering routes to keep costs down.

Coun Fillis added: “I’m not putting any guarantees in place at all. We are not taking anything off the table.

“We are going to start with a clean sheet for every route and ask how we can improve it and make it more cost-effective. It is about making these routes more realistic.

“The bus companies realise the system for too long has been historic.

“We will look for a better way of doing things for the people of Lancashire.”

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