Bus services in Uttlesford face being cut in Essex-wide shake up

Bus services are being changed in Essex.

Bus services are being changed in Essex. - Credit: Archant

Bus services are being cut and changed in the biggest shake up for decades – and the public has less than three weeks to comment.

The proposed changes mean there will be no bus from Saffron Walden to Radwinter on weekdays after 3.39pm. And the bus from Saffron Walden to Bishop’s Stortford will no longer call at Widdington.

These are just two examples of cuts proposed by Essex County Council to 260 bus routes. Under the proposals, 29 village routes will have no regular services on most days. They will be replaced by a scheme called ‘demand responsive transport’ (or DRT) which means that passengers will have to order a ride. It could well pick them up from their home, but they will have to give several hours or even a day’s notice. If school pupils use DRT transport to return home later from school this will be charged extra. Their student ticket will not be valid.

There are proposals for DRT services between Arkesden, Berden, Chrishall, Clavering, Elmdon, Farnham, Langley, Littlebury, Manuden, Quendon and Rickling (in the areas not served by the 301). Also, Strethall, Wenden Lofts, Wicken Bonhunt and Widdington.

Also for routes between Saffron Walden or Dunmow and Bardfield, Lindsell, Great Saling, Chickney, Debden, Great Bardfield, Great and Little Easton, Great Sampford, Thaxted, Tilty, Wimbish and Radwinter.

This will affect travel within these zones, between these zones, and also direct to Saffron Walden, Bishop’s Stortford and Royston, Essex and Herts Hospitals as well as railway stations.

All the proposals are listed in a large blue book available for reference at tourist information centres and libraries in the district. There is also a questionnaire available at libraries and online.

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However, you may need to be familiar with timetables to track down the changes. For example, the 18 bus from Saffron Walden to Radwinter is to be replaced by the 60 – and for the 60 timetable, you need to look up routes 59 and 60. Puzzlingly, one of the routes due to be replaced by DRT is the 17 from Little Sampford to Saffron Walden on some days. Yet, this is a bus which is usually full.

Essex County Council says: “This is part of a review that will help shape the future of public transport. Anyone who lives, works or visits the county is urged to take part in the Getting Around in Essex consultation.”

It adds that this affects only the council-subsidised routes. However, some 260 services (15 per cent of all bus services in Essex) currently receive funding from the council and these are under review.

The consultation documents list all the individual bus services in each district which receive council funding and outlines the changes and the reasons for them.

Bus services specifically designed to serve secondary schools will continue to use conventional buses and timetables. Most home-to-school transport will not be affected.

There are plans to redesign 38 services. There are also minor changes proposed to 16 services and 10 which may be commercialised (taken over and run by an operator).

Some 18 are planned to be withdrawn because the council says there are alternatives available. Twelve very low-use services are earmarked to be removed.

The proposals are planned from April. The Getting Around in Essex consultation and accompanying documents are at www.essex.gov.uk/busreview. Hard copies are available at all Essex County Council libraries or can be requested by calling 08457 430 430. The consultation closes on Wednesday, October 21.