U-turn call on bus phone line ‘farce’

Tony Ward by a Thornton bus stop which has the passenger information.
Tony Ward by a Thornton bus stop which has the passenger information.
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A FORMER Fylde mayor has called for a U-turn on controversial plans to replace traditional timetables with a premium rate phone line.

Wilfred Callon spoke out after Lancashire County Council bosses revealed timetables may soon disappear from bus stops in Fylde and Wyre.

Instead of the traditional poster displaying bus times, adverts would be put in place directing travellers towards an 0871 Traveline service via a mobile phone which can cost up to 50p a minute.

But Mr Callon said the proposals are ‘a farce’ and should be immediately scrapped.

He added: “I’ve been in touch with the county council but can’t seem to get a proper answer.

“What is the point of putting a notice over an existing notice with the information about the telephone number, it seems like an absolute farce to me.

“And not only that but it says on the notice the Traveline number is only available between 8am and 8pm, well what about the services which start at 6am and finish at 11pm.

“All the bus shelters will display this magical number, but what about those people who don’t have a mobile phone, what use is it to them.

“It gives all the different ways to find bus times, including the internet, but most people don’t sit down the day before they travel and think I must check my local bus times. They say it is cost cutting but bus users would be more than happy to pay an extra penny to keep the bus times.”

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A call to the premium 0871 Traveline number costs 10p per minute on top of standard mobile network charges – which are between 30p and 40p per minute – while texts cost 25p on top of the usual rate.

When The Gazette called the number to find out bus times between Poulton and South Shore, it took a total of four minutes, which could cost up to £2, to receive the relevant information.

The council hopes the move will save around £100,000, part of £205m worth of cutbacks the council needs to make by 2014 but Tony Ward, chairman of the Wyre Senior Forum accused the county council of abandoning elderly passengers

Blackpool Council reassured commuters timetables will remain at stops in the resort.

A spokesman added: “Bus timetables are a joint responsibility of Blackpool Transport and Blackpool Council. We will continue to out the bus time tables up through Blackpool. And Blackpool Transport have assured us it will put timetables up at the stops in the areas of Wyre and Fylde their services cover.”

Tim Ashton, cabinet member for highways and transport at county hall, said he did not think it was right taxpayers pay for the timetables and called on bus companies to take responsibility for the time tables.

Stagecoach has confirmed it is in negotiations with the council.

A spokesman said: “We do understand a lot of people are keen to see the information re-established and the talks, which I would say are looking positive, are on going and I think we will know more in the next few weeks.”

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