STONE bus passengers have just one day left to have their say on the future of the town’s services.
Staffordshire County Council is reviewing the bus services it helps to support in the Stone area.
Following the review there may be changes to the subsidised services, the council has said. Any changes will take place in April.
Residents and bus passengers can take part in the consultion, but today is the closing date for responses. For more information, or to have your say, visit http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/transport/publictransport/buses/Stonearealocalbusservicereview.aspx.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for transport Simon Tagg said: “A number of bus service reviews are planned across the county in 2014 to ensure we are getting the best value for money with a network that reflects travel patterns. The network will include sustainable, supported and commercial services.
“The review in Stone is taking place now because of previous unplanned cancellation of some contracts by the operators. As a result, short-term arrangements were made for these services to last until April.”
But the timing of the Stone consultation has come under fire from Stone councillors.
Speaking at a town council meeting on January 2 Councillor Mike Williamson said: “One of the things concerning me is the bus services in Stone but the timing of the consultation is so ridiculous. Most people have missed it.”
Councillor Philip Jones, who represents the Stone Urban ward on the county council, said: “Bus services, particularly in the Walton area, are extremely important and need to be preserved.”
Councillor Jill Hood said concerns had been raised in the Aston Lodge area. “I have had a childminder extremely worried, who heard her bus service was going to be withdrawn. She is not a driver so it is her lifeline,” she said.
Stone services subsidised by Staffordshire County Council are the Wardle/Bennetts 1 (Stonefield Circular), 2 (Aston Lodge Circular) and 3 (Oulton Cross Circular) services, Arriva Midlands/Bennetts’ 164 (Hanley to Market Drayton), Wardle’s 190 (Cranberry to Hanley), Bennetts Travel’s 250 (Walton to Longton), 436 (Stafford to Market Drayton) and 490 (Stone to Stafford), Arriva Midlands’ 432 and 433 (Stafford to Knightley) and Bakers Coaches’ X5 (Hanley to Newport).
In September 2013 services connecting Barlaston with Longton and Stone were reduced by Bakers, sparking anger from Barlaston residents who were left struggling to get to work and school on time.