Recently a number of residents in Kingsley contacted Cllr Cathrine Russell about the disastrous changes to Stagecoach timetables and the deteriorating provision of public transport in Northampton.
Labour’s Cllr Cathrine Russell says,
“'I wrote to the head of Stagecoach Midlands setting out some of the difficulties and problems residents in my ward were facing due to the changes in the timetables of buses in the town.
Stagecoach tells me that major service changes to Stagecoach timetables were introduced in the Northampton area on the 17th of April as a response to two key factors. Firstly an increase in traffic congestion in the Northampton area over the last six months and secondly a significant decline by members of the public using buses, particularly at weekends.
Stagecoach attribute the 'considerable' increase in traffic congestion to lower car fuel prices, as well as customers taking advantage of free car parking provided by the Council as a result of encouraging more people to shop in the town centre. Stagecoach went into detail about why there are changes to specific routes and explained the organisation is obliged to meet defined timekeeping and reliability standards in order to maintain its operating license.
Stagecoach says it has discussed the timetable changes in detail with Northamptonshire County Council and mostly the County Council, apparently, was pleased by the new links from Rectory Farm, Weston Favell and Kettering Road as well as East Hunsbury to Northampton Rail Station, and the link from Kings Heath and St James to Northampton College. Unfortunately, Stagecoach was advised that the County Council was not in a position to fund a replacement peak service in other wards and specifically Kingsley.'”
When Cllr Russell asked for an explanation as to why local residents had not been fully informed or even consulted, Stagecoach Midlands said bus companies do not consult with local residents in advance of service reductions, as this slows down service changes and leads to greater cutbacks in order to correct their financial performance.
Apparently Stagecoach is looking again for ways to improve the service to the Kingsley area and will be reviewing this situation in July or early August at the latest.
Cllr Russell has also contacted the County Council, the authority responsible for the provision of public transport, asking for comment about the lack of public information regarding the alarming cut in the number of buses for both Kingsley and Town residents and the difficult situation residents find themselves as well as the viability and prospects for public transport in the coming years and months - after all, it’s the least the people of Northampton deserve. Cllr Russell has received an acknowledgement to this request but not a substantive response.
Cllr Russell added,
“Once again Northampton has drawn the 'short straw' and losing yet another important public service under this current County Council.”