Buses could soon be 'daytime' only
EVENING bus services could soon be axed as part of cost-cutting measures along three key routes.
First Bus company is considering sweeping changes to their number one, two and five services, which run between Hanley, Bentilee, Longton and Abbey Hulton.
The changes would see the services running in the daytime only – and could come into force as soon as next month.
The bus company said it is looking into cutting back the services due to a fall in passenger numbers, and a decision is expected to be taken on Wednesday.
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First Bus spokesman Ady Culpin, pictured below, said: "One of the changes is in relation to the Bentilee estate.
"The changes will affect every service as they would be withdrawn after 7pm.
"It is solely down to low patronage as there are very few people using them late at night.
"As we operate commercially, it is not viable to keep a service going that is not being used." Linda Cave, of Priory Road, Abbey Hulton, is among regular bus users who were dismayed to hear about the potential cuts.
The council cleaning supervisor said: "I work five nights a week in Hanley so if my bus is cut then I will have to walk for an hour to get home.
"Because I don't drive I have to always rely on public transport but without these services it will make things very hard for a lot of people.
"It is the worst time of the year to be left without transport, especially when it's snowy and icy.
"Cutting bus services puts people at risk because we are forced to walk home in the dark and late at night."
If the cuts go ahead, the number one service from Hanley to Longton, which used to run until 11.45pm, would finish at 7.15pm from Monday to Saturday.
On Sunday the last service will run at 6.45pm
Service number two, which runs via Bentilee and Weston Park, would finish at 6.55pm from Monday to Saturday, and at 6.25pm on Sunday.
The plans for service five, which runs between Hanley and Abbey Hulton, have not yet been finalised but are expected be similar. Mr Culpin said: "The routes will go out to tender and if any company feels they can take on the work, then they will.
"And if there is funding available then there will be no inconvenience to our passengers.
"People have to be realistic. We never like having to take a service away, but if customer numbers have dropped off we are faced with no other option."
However, fifty-eight-year-old Mrs Cave said: "It is not fair for those who use these services and rely on them.
"Even if we share a taxi home then it takes money from our earnings. It is enough to put people off working."
Officials at Stoke-on-Trent City Council have already held meetings with representatives of other bus companies to see if they could fill in to ease the cuts, should they be implemented.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation said: "We are talking to local bus companies to see if there is any interest in them taking on these services on a commercial basis.
"However, no offer to do so has been received by any operator.
"So, as things stand, these evening services will cease on the given date.
"There is no budget currently available for the city council to fund these services."