'What about us?' The villagers feeling forgotten about in bus plans
Residents in Buckshaw Village say they have been forgotten about in plans for new subsidised bus services which will be running through parts of Chorley from next week.
Lancashire County Council and Chorley Council stepped in to jointly fund two new routes after Stagecoach announced that it was scrapping the 109A service which runs from Chorley to Leyland, taking in Astley and Buckshaw villages along the way.
While the replacement routes will once again provide a bus through Astley – which would otherwise have been cut off – Buckshaw will be without a direct substitute for the service which it is losing.
Although Buckshaw is already served by a separate Stagecoach bus – the 109, which will continue to operate along Central Avenue – some locals have complained that the new timetable takes no account of residents who want to travel within the village itself, rather than head to Chorley or Preston.
“We need a bus which literally goes round the houses,” said Bridget Murphy who has set up the Buckshaw Village Bus Users group on Facebook.
“It’s a long walk down Old Worden Avenue to the shops and GP surgery – and it’s uphill on the way back. It can take me 20 minutes to get down there and double that time to get back.
“That might not be so bad in the summer, but try doing it in the winter when it’s icy.
“Young families, the elderly and less able will all be affected. A lot of people in Buckshaw do drive, but there are still vulnerable people here who rely on the bus.
“At the moment, I have a bus stop three minutes from my house, but that will be redundant from next week.”
Dozens of comments on the Facebook group highlight other issues with the changes – including the absence of a direct bus from any part of Buckshaw and Leyland to Chorley Hospital and the walks and waits faced by youngsters to catch the 109 to school.
However, Lancashire County Council, which is contributing 75 percent of the subsidy for the new services, says that the routes were devised after careful consideration in the wake of Stagecoach’s decision.
“We agreed with Chorley Council that we should look to merge existing services together, as passenger usage data showed that we had some very under-utilised sections of the routes which also had access to other services within walking distance”, said County Cllr Andrew Snowden, lead member for transport.
“It felt a very bizarre situation to leave Astley Village – the section of the routes that has the highest passenger numbers and no access to other services – with no service in favour of other parts of the routes, like Old Worden Avenue, which have very low passenger numbers and other services within walking distance.”
Cllr Mark Clifford, who represents Clayton-le-Woods and Whittle-le-Woods on Chorley Council, said some residents moved to Buckshaw when it was first built on the basis that there would be a bus service within its boundaries.
“Those people have been sold down the river by these changes – it will cut off most of the village. Buckshaw residents should get the service they need and deserve,” Cllr Clifford said.
Meanwhile, Cllr Mark Perks, representing the Clayton with Whittle division on Lancashire County Council, said it residents faced difficult times ahead.
“The implications are just as devastating for Buckshaw [as they would have been for Astley]. People moved there thinking public transport and the masterplan for the village was simply the best option – but now it’s turning into a nightmare,” County Cllr Perks said.