Since we broke the news last month that Centrebus had decided to axe the Number 19 route because it was no longer commercially viable, workers, students, shoppers and sports fans have contacted us to say they would be left stranded without it.
Melton MP, Alicia Kearns, even raised the issue in the House of Commmons, calling on the company not to scrap ‘460 square miles of decent bus services’ by withdrawing the Number 19.
Both Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire County Councils explored options to help finance the service but they have now told us they would not be able to help save it.
David Brookes, director at Centrebus, told the Melton Times this afternoon: “I have been contacted by Leicestershire County Council who following an impact assessment have decided not to support the service.
“I hope Melton residents understand that we can’t carry on running the bus at a loss, the service simply isn’t carrying enough passengers for it to be commercially viable.
“The only way we could have kept the 19 running would have been with financial support.”
The last number 19 buses, which carry passengers between the town’s St Mary’s Way terminus and the city, will run on Saturday (April 9).
Leicestershire County Council said there were alternative buses passengers could use between Melton and villages such as Potters Hill, Ab Kettleby and Nether Broughton and they also had access to a Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) service between Melton and the villages of Wartnaby and Ab Kettleby.
But none of these would give residents the option to travel between the town, surrounding villages and Nottingham.
On the Number 19 service, the council’s cabinet lead member for highways and transport, Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, told the Melton Times: “We have looked at what it means for people along the route and identified alternative services which they can use.
“The council’s policy is to prioritise financial support for passenger transport used to access essential services, such as food shopping and healthcare, and there are existing alternatives available for residents along the Number 19 route.
“We do acknowledge some journeys on the 19 service are made further afield but we need to focus our limited resources on those that people need to access essential services.”
He added: “Centrebus, like all other operators, have had access to commercial and local transport authority Bus Recovery Grant (BRG) money throughout the pandemic to help manage shortfalls.
“As well as BRG we have been paying concessionary travel reimbursements at 100 per cent pre-Covid levels to support operators further through these challenging times.
“We would encourage people to use and support all their local bus services at a time when operators are under pressure.”
Nottinghamshire County Council said it had arranged for the 853 Nottsbus Connect service to be extended from next week to enable villagers in Upper Broughton anbd Hickling Pastures to travel to West Bridgford, on the edge of the city. But no subsidies would be offered to save the Number 19 Centrebus route.
Gary Wood, head of transport and highways at Nottinghamshire County Council, told the Melton Times: “Following the decision made by Centrebus to withdraw the 19 route Nottinghamshire County Council has been working on options to ensure that Nottinghamshire residents continued to have access to public transport and the following change to our existing 853 service will be made from Monday April 11.
“The route will be amended to serve Upper Broughton, Hickling Pastures, Stanton and Normanton.
“The service provides off-peak public transport to Keyworth, Morrisons and West Bridgford and the revised timetable will be put in timetable cases on route and will appear on Traveline very shortly.
“Services in this area will be reviewed later this year and it is hoped that a new fully ‘On Demand’ service may be introduced which will offer a wider choice of times and destinations.”
Those affected by the loss of the Number 19 service include people who shop and study in Nottingham, residents who have family and friends in the city, supporters of Nottingham Forest and Notts County who live in the town and cricket fans who use the route to get to Trent Bridge for county games and Test matches.