Changes made to Saffron Walden bus services

Stephensons bus

Stephensons bus - Credit: Archant

Bus passengers are being urged to check updated timetables after a number of services have been cut or changed.

From Monday (April 11), there will be no weekday bus from Clavering to Saffron Walden after the council announced that part of the number 59 service has been axed. Instead, customers will have to use a dial-a-ride service.

The service, run by Stephenson’s bus company, has been changed as part of a widespread cull of bus services across the county by Essex County Council. The bus, which now ends at Audley End Station or Newport on school days, will extend to Clavering on Saturdays.

Bus user Margaret Skinner, 77, who travels to Saffron Walden for the Tuesday market and the opticians, told the Reporter this week: “We were all really worried about it at the bus stop this morning. It’s very stressful. There is a dial-a-ride service but you have to give them two days notice.

“This decision will hit the elderly. A lot of people were saying ‘We’ll have to stay at home’ but that’s bad for people. They are hitting at people who they think haven’t got a voice. Even if they ran this service two days a week, it would help.”

Other cuts or replacement of regular services with dial-a-ride transport include the Saffron Walden Shopper to Chrishall, Little Sampford to Saffron Walden and the routes from Clavering to Bishop’s Stortford.

Bill Hiron, managing director of the bus company Stephensons, told the Reporter: “The service is operated under contract to Essex County Council and following a big public consultation exercise, many services across Essex are changing from Monday, April 11.”

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Judith Thompson, from the town’s tourist information centre (TIC), said: “As the changes haven’t kicked in yet, it’s a little bit early to gauge the feeling among residents. Some of them may get a shock when they discover that a particular route is no longer running.”

Rachel Thomas, also from the TIC, added: “We’ve had quite a lot of people in to get the new timetable, and there was a lot of concern during the consultation period when many of the bus routes were up in the air.

“There has been relief that the Widdington bus is still going to run, as that was one which may have been axed, and I think people are working out alternatives if their route has been affected.”

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The revised services are the result of a wide ranging passenger transport review and public consultation carried out in 2015.

“The changes are principally to evening, Sunday and rural services. We are aiming to create a more efficient, sustainable and cost effective network for the future.”