An evening bus service running between Blackpool and Preston has been saved after it became a victim of cutbacks at Lancashire County Council.
Bus firm Stagecoach has stepped in to extend its popular daytime 68 service between Blackpool and Preston by offering an evening service as well.
The evening service is currently operated by another bus firm and is subsidised by County Hall, but the authority is having to axe many of its supported bus links from April in the face of massive savings needed after Government cuts.
Stagecoach has now committed to independently operate additional Monday to Saturday evening services on the 68 from April 3.
The company says the move will be make life easier and cheaper for passengers because they will now only need the one ticket to travel in the daytime and the evenings, instead of having to buy them separately.
Elisabeth Tasker, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire, said: “Local communities are really starting to feel the impact of the squeeze on public sector services, and subsidised bus services in Lancashire have really been in the firing line, with significant cuts to funding.
Subsidised bus services in Lancashire have really been in the firing line
“These funding cuts to locally-supported bus services are going to cause real disruption to people across the region, so we’re pleased to be able to minimise the effect on people by running additional evening services and reducing the cost of anytime travel on the 68 route between Blackpool and Preston.”
The 68 Preston to Blackpool service will be run to a new timetable from the April date.
There will be a slight amendment to the route – in Blackpool town centre the bus will drive back to Preston along the Promenade from Market Street to Manchester Square and not via Adelaide Street West and Central Drive.
The company will also continue to run the 61 service from Blackpool to Preston. There will be an updated timetable for service 61 including a number of additional journeys between Preston and Wrea Green (and vice versa).
Passengers can view the new timetable at stagecoachbus.com
However, Stagecoach is ending its subsidised operations to the north of the Fylde coast.
The company has finally confirmed it is to close its Fleetwood depot on Siding Road, after weeks of speculation. And the company also made it clear that all services it runs in the port – the 74 service from Blackpool (including Victoria Hospital) to Larkholme, the 84 Service from Poulton to Fleetwood, and the 86, 89, and 89H service from Fleetwood, Knott End, and Lancaster – will cease operating from April 3.
The depot will close on the same date and all 34 employees who work at the Fleetwood depot have been offered employment at other Stagecoach bus depots.
Mrs Tasker said: “Due to the impact of the cuts on the number of routes we run from our Fleetwood depot, we have made the difficult decision to close the depot as we no longer require the a full team to service the reduced routes.
“Our employees are of the utmost importance to us and every member of staff from the depot has been offered an equivalent position at another Stagecoach site.”