HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition to reinstate a bus service through the heart of Long Lawford.
The petition calls 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.
It was handed in to Stagecoach Midlands at its headquarters in Railway Terrace by Long Lawford residents – including petition organiser Pete McLaren, who says elderly and infirm people living along the old route have been ‘stranded’ because they are unable to walk the extra distance to the bus stops on the 86 route.
The Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) spokesperson said: “I am delighted we have collected 516 names on the petition.
“The petition shows the campaign has support throughout the village – particularly, but by no means exclusively, from residents in the streets most affected by the changes.
“Public transport provides a lifeline in rural communities like Long Lawford, and many local residents are suffering since the withdrawal of the 3A bus route through the village.”
He said he has suggested re-routing the existing 86 bus, which passes through Long Lawford on its route between Coventry and Rugby.
“We also wrote to Warwickshire County Council (WCC) as they have a responsibility to maintain less profitable bus services in rural areas,” he added. “Whether or not we need to take up the issue with WCC will depend on the response we get from Stagecoach.”
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 WCC spokesman 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.”
While supporting the petition, WCC’s representative for Earl Craven ward Coun Heather Timms also backed an expansion of the Back & 4th Dial-a-Ride service, launched by Warwickshire Rural Community Council in February.
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.”
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.