With what has been witnessed elsewhere, it has been a surprise that we haven’t been hearing about bus service subsidy cuts here in Cheshire East. That changed a few weeks ago and a number of bus services that have been identified as low priority are now facing withdrawal of council funding.It seems that the trend in other places such as Warrington, North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Northamptonshire finally has reached us too.
One surprise in there is Arriva’s Sunday service 10A between Macclesfield and Bollington. One time that I used it, it seemed well used but one occasion does not tell the whole story. It seems that they have decided to continue operating service 14 from Macclesfield to Langley on a commercial basis so that gives some hope for the 10A, even if you do wonder how long the 14 will continue on Sundays.
Of less surprise is the fact that the 108 serving Stockport, Macclesfield and Leek on Sundays is at risk as is the summer Sunday service 27 from Macclesfield to Knutsford. Indeed, there are other rural services like these that rate low on the priority list too but some are going to operated commercially. What will be interesting is seeing how long they last.
However, school services seem to be bearing the brunt of the cutbacks and it is their cost of operation that seems to be cause if you take into account the council figures. Nevertheless, it is pity to see withdrawals when you consider the contribution of the school run to morning and evening traffic levels.
To its credit the council has tried to let bus users in on what is happening though signs on bus stops could have appeared sooner; I only spotted them this week. On their website, there is a page devoted to Public Transport Criteria information and the relevant documents from the most recent council cabinet meeting are also there to be found too. Until Friday, it seems that the situation with regard to some services is fluid but we only can hope that there is as much continuity as possible when decisions have been taken and how things will take shape at the end of October.
While the changes are unsettling and will be seen as short-sighted by some, they aren’t as bad as the stories heard in other parts of the country. For one thing, North Yorkshire has gone a lot further than this. What be seen from various documents is how many subsidised bus services are under observation. These include the evening Monday to Saturday 130 service between Macclesfield, Wilmslow and Parr’s Wood and there are a few others like it in there too. In a time when usage and cost are being scrutinised, we do not need to be losing necessary bus services that folk get about so vigilance and support for services is vital. With the squeeze on the public finances, nothing can be taken for granted.