|Service 18 at the Bus Station|
Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire service 18 is the only bus service to a large part of east Lancaster. Despite this, since June 2015 it has been reduced to a handful of journeys per day and has been of minimal benefit to local residents. It has continued in this way despite large sums of money being made available to the County Council by housing developers to improve it. For the full story read here.
But yesterday the Bus Users' Group attended a meeting in County Hall, Preston together with senior County Council officers; County Councillor John Fillis (Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport); County Councillor Gina Dowding (Lancaster Central and a BUG member); County Councillor Lizzie Collinge (Lancaster East); Lancaster City Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox (also a BUG member) and even Cat Smith MP!
With all the top brass present, the Bus Users' Group was hopeful of a satisfactory outcome and we were not disappointed. The Council officers initial position was that all the highways works that the developers' money was also provided for would have to be completed and the actual costs established before they would know how much money was available to enhance the bus service.
This was clearly nonsense and the BUG was able to show the Cabinet Member that there was no reason why the two parts of the project could not proceed in tandem, with officers using their available budget estimates to establish the level of bus service that could be afforded.
Councillor Fillis then instructed the officers to set aside a sum of money to allow the timetable enhancement on service 18 to go ahead. The proposal is to run a service every 30 minutes on the existing service 18 route between about 7am and 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays. The sum of money mentioned appears enough - with other money known to be in the pipeline - to run the new timetable for long enough to establish viablility. When the BUG Chair asked how long it would be before the new timetable was introduced there was no definite commitment, but the officers agreed it could be "weeks not months".
The Council will have to seek tenders from bus operators and will need to get the service registered with the Traffic Commissioners so we won't see anything this side of Christmas but it does appear that the end of this whole sorry saga is now in sight!