Tuesday, 5 December 2017

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Buses Over Christmas

"Everything you need to know about buses in Lancaster and Morecambe over the festive period" is the title of the leaflet produced by Stagecoach to advertise their services over Christmas and the New Year.  You can read a copy via this link

As in previous years, services will close down early evening on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and there will be no buses at all on Christmas Day.  Boxing Day (26th December) sees a special daytime service operating on the following routes:

2A University - Lancaster - Heysham (Combermere Road)
3A Lancaster - Bare - Heysham (Combermere Road)
6A Lancaster - Morecambe
40 Morecambe - Lancaster - Preston
55 Lancaster - Carnforth

Full timetables are in the leaflet

However, despite its title, the leaflet doesn't really tell you everything about Lancaster's bus service over Christmas.  Service 555 Lancaster - Carnforth - Kendal - Keswick will be providing a Sunday service on Boxing Day, but as it's operated by a completely different part of Stagecoach (known as "Kendal Depot") there is no mention of this in the "Lancaster and Morecambe" Christmas leaflet. 

If you want to check, you need the "Kendal and the Lake District" leaflet, which you can see here.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

New Round of County Council Cuts Threatens Carnforth and Morecambe Information Centres

Carnforth railway station
Even before an additional £1M of spending on bus services has come into effect Lancashire County Council has announced cuts to funding for bus and train information centres across the county.

As part of a round of spending reductions totalling £7M per annum Lancashire proposes to close the bus station enquiry offices at Preston and Nelson as well as the ticket offices at Clitheroe and Carnforth railway stations. Funding for staff who deal with transport and tourism enquiries at Morecambe Visitor Information Centre is also to be withdrawn in a bid to save £198,000 over the next two years.

Cabinet Report
A report due to be considered by the Council's cabinet on Thursday 7th December admits that the service provided by the centres is "popular" and that the public would no longer have access to public transport information or, in the case of Clitheroe and Carnforth railway stations, the ability to purchase tickets. The council-owned property at Clitheroe would become "surplus to requirements" whereas the Nelson office would be left vacant and would "still incur costs until disposed of (or) leased" The report admits that disposals may be "difficult to achieve" given the localtions and that the council would therefore still incur maintenance costs for the empty and unused properties.

The Carnforth office provides a rail ticket booking facility for staff travelling on council business and the loss of this service "will have an impact on business support services and possibly greater costs to service budgets".

Lancaster's bus station enquiry office survives only because it is operated by Stagecoach although that means it  only provides information on that company's services.

It was only following the election in May this year that the ruling Consrervative party increased the funding for non-commercial bus services by 50% to a new total of £3M per annum, achieved by re-directing funding from the aborted Parish Bus Scheme. It now proposes to save at most £198,000 and possibly much less than that by removing the ability of the travelling public to find out about the new bus services it is paying for as well as those provided at no cost to the council by commercial bus operators.

The Report also admits that "(The) Proposal may make travel by public transport more difficult for older people and for people with disabilities because other sources of information and tickets are less understandable. Older and disabled people are less likely to use digital alternatives to obtain travel information or tickets".  Therefore "The proposal may be updated following consultation".  The BUG will be looking out for the promised "consultation" and hopes that as many people as possible make their views known to Lancashire.