GOVERNMENT fuel tax hikes have led Stagecoach to cut and change a number of bus routes in and around Gainsborough.
This has led to concern among residents and sparked the anger of Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh.
From 2nd April, Stagecoach East Midlands will be making a number of changes to bus services operating across the region.
They say that this is because from the start of the new financial year, the Department of Transport is applying a 20 per cent cut in the tax rebate known as Bus Service Operators Grant - effectively adding 39p to the cost of every gallon of their diesel.
Locally, this will mean that the Gainsborough Town Service 1 and 1a will no longer serve Morton and these journeys will be replaced by Interconnect 100 which will serve Ropery Road, Morton Front and Vanessa Drive. Passengers at Laughton Lane End can use CallConnect by booking.
The InterConnect 100 service from Lincoln to Gainsborough and then to Scunthorpe will now serve Ropery Road, Morton Front and Vanessa Drive and some morning and evening journeys will also change.
The 101 Scunthorpe to Gainsborough route will now only have one journey on this service and will be numbered 100 and retimed.
Commercial director for Stagecoach East Midlands said that the changes were part of a ‘sensible approach’.
“In Gainsborough, we have reduced the mileage of our town service to Morton which currently runs every half-hour,” he said.
“We have effectively got rid of that service but have re-routed the 100 service along Ropery Road to serve some of the areas that were previously covered by it.”
He continued: “The service won’t go to Laughton Lane, but the CallConnect service that operates from there is available upon request and demand.”
Geoffrey Bradley, 81, lives on Walkerith Road near the Laughton Lane stop.
“I use the bus once every couple of weeks,” he said. “I and a lot of other residents around here are going to feel left out on a limb and stranded.”
He added: “I can see why they’re cutting it though - this stop is never usually that busy.”
Local resident Angela Roddham added: “As long as they run more frequently than they do just now it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Another Stagecoach spokesman went on to say : “We have been working hard to reduce our fuel consumption and maximise our efficiency as a business. However, this fuel cost increase will inevitably mean that we have to raise fares and withdraw some bus journeys where there are few people travelling. High mileage routes are particularly affected.”
He added: “We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience to customers caused by the forthcoming April changes. It is always the last resort for Stagecoach East Midlands to reduce or withdraw any bus service but we are unable to sustain routes or timetables that become commercially unviable.”
Conservative Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh said that he was disappointed to see the cuts made as regular transport links were important in less built-up areas like Gainsborough.
“It is still regretful that those who will need to travel outside the peak period will have their options severely curtailed,” said Mr Leigh.
“In rural parts of the country such as ours, providing connections by regular public transport is challenging, but important.”
“This situation is the responsibility of the bus company, and I hope they find more imaginative ways of responding to public demand. They can’t solve their problems simply by demanding subsidies from taxpayers who are hard-pressed to make ends meet already.”
Mr Leigh added: “This underlines the importance to cut the deficit inherited from the previous Government.”