Chorley village bus service to be scrapped this summer

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The only daytime bus service linking Astley Village to Chorley town centre is set to be scrapped.

The 109A Stagecoach service - which also runs to Leyland - will collect passengers for the final time on 21st July. The company says the route is no longer sustainable “due to low demand”.

Stopping the bus - the Stagecoach route serving Astley Village is to be scrapped

Stopping the bus - the Stagecoach route serving Astley Village is to be scrapped

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But local politicians have queued up to condemn the plans with one highlighting the fact that the company receives a subsidy to run a similar service during the evening.

“”We are going to end up in the absurd situation where residents of Astley can get to Chorley on the bus at night, but not during the day,” said Laura Lennox, member for Astley and Buckshaw on Chorley Council.

“The number of people on the daytime service has fallen - but that’s because Stagecoach reduced it to one bus an hour, so the only people who could use it were those with time to spare.

Stagecoach says the 109A is not popular enough to pay its way

Stagecoach says the 109A is not popular enough to pay its way

“If you had to use it for a scheduled appointment, you’d often end up being either very early or late. It also stops at 6pm, so is not suitable for a lot of commuters.”

Astley Village has a population of around 3,000 - but no GP surgery or dentist. Cllr Lennox describes the connection to Chorley as “a lifeline” for residents - old and young.

“Some youngsters will have accepted school or college places for September on the basis that there is a bus service for them.

“The 109A is also vital for residents of two sheltered accommodation facilities in the area - the buses are always busy on market days in Chorley with residents heading into the town,” she said.

Eighty-year-old Astley resident Terence Collins is registered blind and uses the 109A three times per week.

"I live by myself and my only form of transport is the bus. I know quite a few people - some older, some younger - who rely on this service,

"We have never been told anything or asked if we would be willing to pay for the bus - which I know a lot of people would. But how do they expect us to pay nearly £12 to go to the doctors and back in a taxi?

"Between Chorley and Buckshaw village, there is one shop and one takeaway, and many of us just can't manage to walk to Chorley for medical reasons."

The scrapping of the service came to light when Stagecoach published its new timetables for the area.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We are committed to doing all we can to provide our communities with the best possible route options.

“As a responsible company and employer, we have to make sure that the routes we are running are sustainable and respond to customer demand.

“Unfortunately, due to very low demand from customers - and after exploring all possible options - we have made the difficult decision to remove the 109A service which runs from Leyland to Chorley via Astley Village from service.

“This service will cease from 21st July. We would like to offer our sincere apologies to any passengers inconvenienced by this alteration to the route.

“The 109B evening service, which covers Astley Village will not be affected by any changes, which we hope will help to minimise disruption for people living locally.”

Meanwhile, Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle has called on Lancashire County Council to help save the service. The authority currently subsidises 40 percent of the cost of the 109B during the evening, with Chorley Council contributing the rest.

“I am appalled to see local residents once again having to face the threat of losing important local bus services,” Sir Lindsay said.

“Those who rely on public transport need this bus service for going to work, accessing Chorley and Preston town centres and for vital services.

“Over the years we have had to fight for a bus service in Euxton and Astley Village and I urge Stagecoach to review its decision immediately.

“In addition, I want the County Council, as our local transport authority, to do everything within its power to protect this important service and enter negotiations with Stagecoach to see how this service can be saved.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "The withdrawal of the service is a commercial decision by Stagecoach.

"While alternatives will be available for some passengers this will leave some areas, such as Astley Village and stops along Old Worden Avenue in Buckshaw Village, without any service.

"We are exploring options to establish if any sustainable replacement service can be provided."