Wednesday, 11 May 2016

555 Back to Normal

Lancaster's longest and most scenic bus route has returned to normal after six months of disruption caused by the storms of last winter.
Service 555, which links Lancaster with Kendal, Windermere, Grasmere and Keswick through the heart of the Lake District, was disrupted in early December when part of the A591 north of Grasmere was washed away by winter storms.

Changing buses in Grasmere Village.
Initially, the service terminated at Grasmere, with passengers for Keswick being required to change at Kendal for a shuttle service to Penrith, where they could join the existing X4 service to their destination.  Motorists have had to continue following a similar lengthy diversion, but from early February the installation of a temporary bridge and the surfacing of a forest track allowed buses and cyclists (only) to reach a minor road running along the west side of Thirlmere allowing Stagecoach to restore the service to Keswick. Through passengers were still required to change buses at Grasmere as the temporary route was not suitable for double-deckers. Initially small Optare Solo buses were used on the link, but these quickly had to be
The only passing place on the single-track road alongside Thirlmere
(c) Martin Tordoff
duplicated on many departures. Larger single-deckers were then used but even these were not big enough to cope with the loadings and, with clever scheduling, leading to the unusual sight of four single-deck buses passing each other at the only possible passing place on the single track road along the side of Thirlmere.

Work on the A591 was completed this week and from today through running between Lancaster and Keswick has been restored and the normal timetable re-introduced. 

Whilst this is good news for passengers it might be a mixed blessing for Stagecoach for whilst the extra running costs of the shuttle service will be saved they will no doubt lose passengers for whom the bus from Grasmere to Keswick will no longer be the fastest way of getting there, as well as the many who were attracted to the service "just for the ride".

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