Bus firm vows to make service improvements

Philip Higgs
Philip Higgs
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A Blackpool bus operator insists services will improve after a number of teething problems were reported.

The Fylde coast went through its biggest shake up of bus services in decades on Monday when a number of routes subsidised by Lancashire County Council were withdrawn.

Operator Catch22 has stepped in to cover some of the areas affected by the changes – which followed a dramatic cut in funding for public transport from County Hall.

They have started a new number 24 service linking Cleveleys with Poulton.

But the change hasn’t gone entirely smoothly with problems being reported in the early days of running.

David Ferrett, from Elvaston Road in Carleton, is among those to have issues.

He said: “I was very upset to see the end of the Stagecoach operations but very pleased to see Catch22 coming in.

“I want to support the new operator, there is a feeling we have to use or lose these services.

“But on the first day I went out to catch the bus. After waiting the first one drove straight past without stopping, despite my arm being out.

“The second did not turn up at all. I tried to phone the bus company but couldn’t get through to anybody. It isn’t a good start.”

A number of other issues have been raised on social media forums with residents in Thornton and Cleveleys reporting services running up to 40 minutes late.

One Catch22 bus was seen broken down in Thornton on Tuesday evening but the company insists the positives of the service launch outweigh any early problems.

And Philip Higgs, director of Catch 22 Buses, has pledged to improve aspects of the new 24 bus service.

He admitted there had been delays on some of the services and there had been queues, mainly due to an overall reduction in services

But he said: “Last week, between 6am and 6pm we had 45 departures running between Cleveleys, Thornton and Poulton.

“This week we had 20 departures, so there were fewer buses serving a similar number of passengers.

“Another big problem was that from Monday onwards, we had roadworks in Thornton centre which delayed each service by three minutes, which has a knock-on effect for passengers.

“Those roadworks will continue for four weeks, so that is out of our hands.

“We are looking to improve the 24 service and I will be talking to Lancashire County Council to discuss increasing the service to every 20 minutes instead of every 30 minutes.

“We have had some very positive comments from customers, including good feedback about the new Hillylaid Road route which covers that area every 30 minutes instead of every 90 minutes.”