Council withdraws vital’ bus

PUBLISHED: 13:16 11 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:05 31 May 2010

Charles Lawrence, Victor Curtis, John Tisbury and Winifred Sparrow use the bus - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Charles Lawrence, Victor Curtis, John Tisbury and Winifred Sparrow use the bus - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

BUS users are furious that Essex County Council is planning to withdraw a service connecting Stansted Mountfitchet with Epping. Last week it was announced that the 333 service, run by Excel Coaches, will cease to operate at the beginning of February. Uttl

BUS users are furious that Essex County Council is planning to withdraw a service connecting Stansted Mountfitchet with Epping.

Last week it was announced that the 333 service, run by Excel Coaches, will cease to operate at the beginning of February.

Uttlesford District Council member for Stansted, Cllr Alan Dean, has already launched a campaign and delivered 300 questionnaires and petitions to households around the village, where the bus route begins.

He said: "This is a vital service for many people. Whilst giving out the letter I met a man at a bus stop who depends on it to visit his family in Harlow.

"The first person to return the questionnaire told me she uses it to go to St Margaret's Hospital in Epping. It's a three-hospital lifeline as well as a shoppers' bus."

Cllr Dean contacted Essex County Council's highways and transportation department to request that they subsidise the service to ensure its survival.

Transport liaison manager, Wendy Jackson, said: "At the moment the county council's budget for supporting local bus services is almost totally committed to the support of existing services.

"Whenever we are informed about a service withdrawal we consider a number of factors relating to the service in question, including: the alternatives available; the effects on county minimum service level requirements; usage; and the likely cost to the council of replacing the service.

"In light of these factors, it is unlikely that the county council will be able to fund a replacement service for the 333."

The council also pointed out that Maitland Road, the first stop on the route of the 333 service, was served by its subsidised Village Link 7 service that goes directly to Bishop's Stortford and Stansted Airport.

Cllr Dean said: "It's no good telling people to change buses in Bishop's Stortford after a countryside tour of villages around the airport using the Village Link 7 service.

"The 333 takes 15 minutes from the Mountfitchet estate to the Herts and Essex Hospital. Using Village Link 7 it takes 53 minutes just to get to the centre of Stortford, where people will have to wait and change for the hospital.

"Worst still, people from Stansted with Essex bus passes will have to pay for the Herts leg if they have to change buses and when they may be unwell. I think the county council may need to address its priorities on this one."

Cllr Dean plans to contact the council again when he has received responses to the questionnaire he distributed.

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