Some Melton area bus routes could soon be scrapped

Some Melton bus routes serving the town and surrounding villages could be scrapped as part of plans by County Hall to make £400,000 savings from its community transport budget.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 1:06 pm
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 1:10 pm
A Centrebus 14 service bus turns out of Windsor Street, Melton EMN-190803-130220001

Leicestershire County Council has announced it will look at services that it currently provides over the next five months before making a decision on which routes it will continue to provide and which will stop running.

At risk are the 113 Melton – Oakham, 128 Leicester – Melton (north of the A607), 55 and 56 Melton – Grantham, 23 and 25 Melton – Stathern/Nether Broughton, 100 Leicester – Melton (south of the A607), 8 Loughborough – Melton and Grantham, 24 Melton – Bottesford/Bingham, 14 and 15 Melton town services.

A public consultation will be launched into the future of these services next month.

Also under threat of closure is the 6A – Bottesford – Grantham (including Muston diversion and school journeys), with the community to be consulted this month, and the 27 Loughborough – Thurmaston with a consultation due on this one in June.

Councillor Blake Pain, lead member for transport, said decisions had to be made because it was no longer commercially viable for the council to continue helping to pay for all existing bus services.

He said: “Transport is changing and at the same time as trying to save money we are also trying to offer a better service to residents.

“We are subsidising some journeys to the tune of £17 per passenger, that’s not economical.

“What we end up with might not be a service that is as frequent but it will still mean that people can get to the core amenities.

“We’re thinking ahead of the curve on this, some authorities provide no services any more and that’s not what we are suggesting at all.

“This isn’t about us saying which services can we stop, it’s about us engaging with communities and making informed decisions.”

Council staff have started speaking to people who use the routes about how well used services are and potential alternatives if routes are stopped.

Ann Carruthers, director or transport at the council, said: “We will be asking for feedback about times, frequency and community specific factors.

“If people say to us there is a market in town on this day we will factor that in.

“We are open to ideas and suggestions but we also need to manage expectations, we can’t offer gold plated vehicles but we can work within the financial envelope to develop ideas with communities.

“People’s idea of public transport is a 52-seater bus driving around at this time from this place, stopping here, but things are changing now.”

The department was keen to stress there would not be a situation where people were cut off and left with no options.

Ms Carruthers added: “Demand responsive transport means that if there are people wanting to use the service they can ring and book a place and the next day it will be there.

“It also means that there won’t be empty vehicles driving around and we are still offering a service.

“We recognise that there will be some challenges because it will mean a change in some areas but we will work with people during the transition.”

Emotions ran high at a public meeting on public transport in Melton last May when county council officials outlined plans to review bus routes across Leicestershire to make them more cost-effective.