'Furious' villagers campaign for improved bus service - The Rugby Observer

'Furious' villagers campaign for improved bus service

Rugby Editorial 14th Mar, 2019 Updated: 14th Mar, 2019   0

‘FURIOUS’ residents of Long Lawford are campaigning for an improved bus service after recent cuts left the elderly and disabled ‘stranded’.

A petition has been launched calling on Stagecoach Midlands to bring buses back to parts of the village on the old 3A route, which was cancelled in January due to falling passenger numbers.

Petition organiser and Long Lawford resident Pete McLaren said: “Many people living along the former 3A route – particularly the elderly and infirm – are finding it difficult to walk the extra distance to the remaining bus stops.”

He told The Observer about an elderly woman who has lost her independence as she can no longer take the bus into Rugby three times a week, and an elderly disabled woman who now needs to arrange for lifts to and from her nearest bus stop.

His petition calling for the remaining 86 service to divert to the old 3A route has attracted hundreds of signatures.

“It is vital that rural communities like Long Lawford keep and expand what facilities and services they have,” he said.

A Stagecoach spokesman said: “The current routing through Long Lawford is what Stagecoach Midlands consider to be commercially viable. Where a route is socially necessary but not commercial then it is the role of the council to review if they wish to tender a service.”

A spokesman for Warwickshire County Council (WCC) said: “The 86 is still deemed to provide an acceptable level of service. Any passengers that used to catch the 3A can still catch the 86 by accessing the nearest bus stop.

“Should this petition be received by WCC, it will be reviewed within published guidelines.”

WCC’s representative for Earl Craven ward Coun Heather Timms said: “I know Stagecoach will always say it’s about the viability of the route, but hopefully we can change their minds.”

She added that, while supporting the petition, she also backed an expansion of the Back & 4th Dial-a-Ride service, launched by Warwickshire Rural Community Council last month.

The WCC-subsidised service, which collects passengers from home and takes them to their chosen destination, runs through Long Lawford on Tuesdays.

She said: “It’s ideal for older residents. It’s door-to-door, and they can use their bus pass, so it’s free.

“The more people who use it, the more WCC will be willing to subsidise it.”

But Mr McLaren said it was “nowhere near the same as a full bus service”.

Visit www.bit.ly/2Uebelm to sign the petition.

Visit www.wrccrural.org.uk/services/back-4th or call 01788 226000 (Monday-Friday, 10am-3pm) for more information on the Dial-a-Ride service.


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