All change...but will Rasen avoid cuts to bus services?

CallConnect bus. EMN-160318-101301001
CallConnect bus. EMN-160318-101301001
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Bus passengers in the Rasen area are hoping to avoid cuts to services which have led to protests from residents living in other market towns.

Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed changes to routes in neighbouring Louth and Horncastle.

However, at this stage, it appears there are no immediate plans to reduce services in the Rasen area.

For example, the 53X/53L service that operates between Louth and Market Rasen will run as before the latest changes.

The alterations in Louth and Horncastle are focused mainly on rural routes.

Main routes - many operated by Stagecoach - appear to be unaffected.

The Conservative controlled

County Council initially ruled out any reductions last month to services after securing extra Government funding.

However, it emerged last week that cuts were proposed to the 6C route between Horncastle and Louth - and the Louth Nipper service.

The Horncastle to Woodhall Spa service was ‘withdrawn’.

Now, the council says it has utilised an ‘additional vehicle’ and will reinstate some 6C journeys.

But, there has been no u-turn on the Horncastle to Woodhall Spa route, with passengers advised to use an alternative service provided by Brylaine.

Anita Ruffle, the council’s group manager for passenger transport, said: “We constantly strive to deliver efficient and cost effective services by combining or dovetailing journeys wherever possible.

“The latest proposed changes to the Louth Nipper and the Louth-Horncastle (6C) services are good examples of this.

“The services were set to be reduced but a new Adult Social Care service in the area has now provided extra capacity.

“On weekdays from April 4, the Louth Nipper will operate its regular pattern from 8am -6pm (less a lunchtime break) and there will be another 6C round trip to Horncastle making three in all.

“A reduced timetable will still operate on a Saturday when usage is traditionally lower. Copies of the new timetables will be displayed on the vehicles and distributed within the area.

“We will continue to look for opportunities in other areas such as Horncastle – Woodhall Spa where significant increase in tender prices is requiring service levels to be reduced.”

There was widespread opposition to changes to the 6C service which provides a vital link between several Wolds villages and Horncastle and Louth.

In addition, the route is used by people with appointments at Louth Hospital.

The hospital is still on the schedule, although the number of buses calling there has been reduced.

County councillor Bill Aron, who represents Horncastle and Tetford, said: “I believe the officers have worked hard to bring the service back round,even with having huge budget pressures.

“Some service providers have been demanding a 40 and 50% increase in their costs.”

The County Council heavily subsidise many rural routes, including those in the Rasen and Caistor areas.

However, there are claims that many rural routes are not popular enough to justify such large subsidies.