Concern over changes to Spalding town bus services - and Shaws' service from Deeping to Spalding to end from January
Bus services in and around Spalding are set for a major shake-up in the coming weeks.
Passengers have learned that Brylaine's IT1 and IT2 town services will no longer run past 3.25pm, with a new timetable starting on December 27.
There will also be changes to certain stops with Monkshouse Lane and Thames Road removed from the new service. Brylaine explains on its website this is to 'maintain timings' and to take into account constant issues drivers face with on-street parking. The alternative route will be via Hannam Boulevard.
The bus company adds that changes have been made to provide a 'better service,' as it endeavours to return to a half-hour service.
But those who rely on buses say that cutting out routes such as Monkshouse Lane and not continuing buses past 3.25pm will impact them. That is particularly if they need a bus to get home from work.
In addition to the changes to Brylaine, the long-running Spalding to Market Deeping number 100 service, operated by Shaws, will be ending as of January 1. Instead, Delaine Buses has decided to extend its 203 Stamford to Market Deeping commercial service to Spalding.
But Delaine has withdrawn its Saturday buses and the route around Deeping St James Cross has been removed due to very low passenger numbers.
The last bus from the Deepings to Spalding, which was the 5.05pm and the return from Spalding at 5.45pm, will also be discontinued.
Brylaine has asked Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) for support to continue running its weekday IT1 and IT2 Spalding town buses up to 5.30pm. However, the county council says that not enough people use the later buses to justify spending taxpayer's money on keeping them running.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Brylaine said: "In all honesty, we understand when residents are concerned because change is imminent.
"It's a worrying time, but we assure them that we only undertake change when and where it is necessary and that we will continue, wherever we are able, to provide services that support passengers wishing to travel by bus.
"I think firstly, we should explain that Spalding town bus service is a commercial service and relies totally on paying passengers, along with the goodwill of Spalding town residents (with the exception of the 7.30am schools in the morning which has a financial contribution from LCC for education purposes)."
The statement continued to explain that other hurdles facing the company are access to places people want to go to, lack of bus lanes and congestion; highways access issues, current levels of 'ridership,' usage and falling passenger numbers.
"IT1 and 2 Spalding town services have predominately been used as a daytime shopper service and we are thankful for the support of all our passengers on it, given they are lovely, loyal people," the statement continued.
"However, as a service it has the scope to do more by working collaboratively with businesses, schools and public services.
"We would like to entice more people on board, such as end to end workers, shift workers, schools, apprentices, those who are in town for leisure or those who simply prefer not to drive, cycle or walk into town."
But one passenger, who lives in the Pennygate area, said: "I only heard about the changes from other passengers and the drivers. People will be affected if the buses finish around 3pm, especially in the winter when it's getting dark and people rely on the later bus.
"The bus will be going down Hallam Boulevard instead of Monkshouse Lane but I do not know how they will get a bus down there."
And Councillor Angela Newton, who represents Spalding West ward for the county council and the Monkshouse ward for the district council, said she was 'really sad' to hear about the changes to services.
She has been in contact with officers at the county council to discuss her concerns. She is also urging a meeting to discuss funding from a Section 106 provision in regards to the Broadgate development at The Broadway in Spalding to help towards public transport provision in the town.
"The buses not running up to 5.30pm will affect people going home if they use them for work and other people who use the buses to get to work will stop using them if they know they can't get a bus home.
"I'm also sad for the people along Bourne Road," (which has been cut out of the amended service), "and those at the back end of Pennygate."
"IT1 and 2 Spalding town services have predominately been used as a daytime shopper service and we are thankful for the support of all our passengers on it, given they are lovely, loyal people."
And she had similar concerns that the bus drivers will find it difficult to get down Hannam Boulevard due to parked cars.
Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways at the county council, said: "Local bus operators have decided a number of their commercial services are no longer viable given current passenger numbers, and are planning to reduce the number of journeys along these routes.
"We know that many people rely on their local bus service to travel to work, get to doctor's appointments, and visit friends.
"That's why we've decided to increase our bus subsidies in the Spalding and Boston areas to maintain some of the better used services that were under threat.
"Unfortunately, we can't justify using taxpayers' money to run buses that are used by literally one or two people, so we won't be able to reverse all the cuts made by the commercial operators.
"However, people who are affected by the changes should remember that our popular Call Connect service can often provide an alternative way to get where they're going."
Brylaine will be continuing its B13 service between Spalding bus station and the Johnson Hospital. Coun Newton campaigned for this to be introduced as soon as it became clear Pennygate Health Centre patients would be switched to the hospital.
The spokesperson for Brylaine added: "Even with the reduction after 3.25pm, there will still be two buses running every day, operating between 7.45am until 3.25pm Monday - Friday during term time, giving residents 28 departures from Spalding Bus Station.
"Whilst on Saturdays and school holidays, even with one bus (the IT2), residents will still have access to eleven departures a day from the bus station, operating around Spalding town between 9.30am and 3.25pm.
"If there are concerned passengers with immediate transport issues or those who are worried and believe they may need a town service journey after 3.25pm, we can advise them that the LCC Spalding Call Connect Service can be booked for a pick-up any time after 3.25pm on any day and this service is wholly supported by Lincolnshire County Council, for this purpose.
"If anyone is concerned we would of course be more than happy to hear from them, by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org"