Angry bus passengers in Fleetwood are demanding a re-think over changes to two key routes which mean many local stops have been removed.
Bus users, some of them elderly, are now faced with a farcical situation which means they have to travel into Fleetwood town centre or a mile away to the Cala Gran in order to catch the 74 or 75 out of town, because the buses no longer stop near their homes.
The 74 takes Fleetwood passengers into Poulton and on to Blackpool Victoria hospital, while the 75 is Fleetwood’s only direct route to Preston via Poulton.
But they no longer stop on Poulton Road (Aldi), Highbury Avenue, Winfield Road or Broadwater - the buses pass through from Lord Street and don’t stop till they reach Cala Gran.
The only way that Fleetwood passengers can catch these buses is they use the stop outside Asda on Dock Street or the Albert Square stop on Lord Street – or the Cala Gran on Fleetwood Road.
Users of the buses, operated by Rotala Preston Bus, are so unhappy their stops have been missed out they have set up a petition to try and get things changed.
Angela Patchett, leading the campaign, said: “Many of these passengers are old and disabled and their lives have been made so much harder by these changes. They rely on the buses because they don’t have cars and it just isn’t fair that their stops have been taken away. They deserve better.”
Ivor Bould, who uses the 75 to get to Preston, said: “Having to travel back into Fleetwood town centre to catch a bus out of town is ridiculous. It’s an extra journey we shouldn’t have to make.
“Passengers who live in Warren ward, Mount ward, Park ward and Rossall are all effected, it’s not acceptable.”
The changes, which came into effect on the first week of September, were brought about to enable the number 74 to interchange more effectively with the 75 at Poulton for the benefit of some Fleetwood people trying to get to Preston.
Transport authority Lancashire County Council says that people who live in Fleetwood and work or go to college in Preston were having to wait in Poulton for 50 minutes because when they jumped off the 74, the direct bus 75 didn’t arrive for almost an hour.
So the County switched the 74 schedule to alleviate this – but the downside has been the loss of many vital bus stops in Fleetwood.
A County spokesman said: “In order to accommodate these changes within existing resources, without incurring extra cost, it was decided to take out stops such as those at Highbury Avenue and Whinfield Avenue due to low demand.” But passengers who have lost their stops say they have been sacrificed to make life easier for other bus users.
Eric Rudder, of Hatfield Avenue, said: “It is a great inconvenience to both me and my wife. We don’t live in the town centre so we’re cut off.”
Mr Bould urged local councillors to take up the issue, saying: “The people of Fleetwood need representation in this matter.” Petitions are at One Stop on Lindel Road and Take Your Pick Greengrocers Lord Street.