MANCHESTER politicians and commuters have expressed their dismay about cuts to bus services across the region.
Following news that 20 bus routes are under threat in Greater Manchester due to cuts by First, Stagecoach and Arriva, a change.org petition has been signed by over 600 members of the public with many complaining that the cuts are unacceptable and will leave too many people isolated.
Stewart Broadhurst, a supporter of the petition, said: “My elderly parents use this service to get out for their independence. Shame on Cheshire East and Stagecoach on robbing people of their independence – very disappointed.”
Donna Cawthra added: “The service is already limited; this would be awful.”
One particularly controversial cut is the 109 Wythenshawe hospital route which is due to be axed and will cause increasing issues for regular patients travelling to and from the hospital.
Wythenshawe MP Mike Kane joined the chorus of disapproval and believes bus services across Greater Manchester are in complete disarray.
However, he is hoping that MPs can help solve the problem in the coming months thanks to new regulation in the House of Commons.
He added: “Around 80 percent of all journeys throughout Greater Manchester are taken on the bus, yet, since deregulation, the number of passenger journeys has fallen from 355 million a year to 210 million a year.
“Deregulation has created a confusing and uncoordinated picture, with private operators setting their own timetables, frequencies, quality standards, fares and payment options.
“The Bus Services Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will help remedying some of the current issues in the bus market across my constituency. It will give the new Mayor powers to decide the routes, frequencies, timetables and quality standards for all buses not just in my constituency, but across all Greater Manchester.”
Another speaking out against the cuts is Labour’s candidate for Mayor, Andy Burnham. He believes that people will lose confidence in bus services if they are unsure when they will arrive and promises that if he is elected as Mayor he will improve bus services around Manchester.
He said: “People will lose confidence in using the service if they’re not sure whether a bus will turn up or not.
“Bus services throughout Greater Manchester are too often run for the profit of the operators and not for the benefit of the passengers.
“In recent years we’ve seen fares going up and vital services cut, often at short notice. It’s no surprise that the number of people using buses has gone down.
“If I am elected as Mayor on May 4, I will use new powers to make buses more affordable, more reliable and work in the public interest.”
A Stagecoach spokesman has said: “There will be selected service reductions in some localised areas to reflect changing travel patterns, however most customers will continue to be served by other services or public transport options.
“The vast majority of Stagecoach Manchester passengers will be unaffected by these changes.”