RURAL residents who rely on a bus service to reach shops and workplaces have been left in the dark about its future, passengers fear.
Arriva’s 841 service connects villages including Tixall, Great Haywood and Little Haywood with Stafford and Uttoxeter, while the 5 service links Hixon, Weston and Salt with the county town and the 841.
But passengers were alarmed to see timetables at Great Haywood stops had been ripped down last week, sparking fears the service was being withdrawn.
Richard Brooks, of Great Haywood, who regularly travels on the 841 with partner Pat Read, said: “We rely on that bus because we don’t have a car. There are also college students and shopworkers who use it – we would be cut off if they stopped the service.”
There were also concerns that 12 Arriva drivers’ jobs could be on the line, but an Arriva Midlands spokesman said no jobs were being lost from the Stafford depot – although the depot’s workload was being reduced.
The 841 has been reviewed as part of a re-tendering process, Staffordshire County Councillor Simon Tagg said.
He added: “While many counties are cutting bus services, Staffordshire is working with operators to improve services to local people.
“From April 28, the 841 service will run hourly instead of every two hours, representing a significant improvement on the current service and creating more flexibility for people wanting to travel from Stafford to Uttoxeter. The service will now be run by D & G who successfully won the contract after a rigorous tendering exercise.”
The fate of council-subsidised buses in the Stone area, which came under review at the start of this year, is due to be made public this week.
Weston resident Dora Chatwin said villagers were anxious to know if their service to Stafford would be retained.
“We have to rely on the 5 service, run by Arriva, but it is not a very frequent service. It takes three quarters of an hour to do a five mile journey and there is no co-ordination with services that go to the railway station.
“There are a lot of older people in Weston and people do rely on that bus – I don’t know what I’m going to do if it gets withdrawn. I understand there was a consultation in Stone at the library but nobody in Weston has been consulted.”
In Stone and Barlaston residents are worried about the future of the X5, which runs between Hanley and Newport.
Town councillor Ann Tomlinson said the X5 was a lifeline for residents of the Redwood Estate, particularly because the 101, between Hanley and Stafford, longer travels via the A34 Stafford Road.