MPs back campaign for better buses

LOCAL MPs Jonathan Reynolds, Andrew Gwynne and Angela Rayner have endorsed the Campaign for Better Buses in the borough.

It comes in the wake of further cuts to local services which had previously been slashed making bus travel in Tameside increasingly difficult.Mr Reynolds has long campaigned for better services as his constituency, which covers Stalybridge and Mossley, has been badly affected.

The latest cuts include scaling back the 389 service, which covers Ridge Hill.

Mr Reynolds said: “Bus cuts have been a problem going back to my early days.

“Route are changed or withdrawn at short notice and not a lot can be done about it.”

Mr Reynolds added though Hollingworth has a Hyde postcode there is no bus service between the two places, which is a huge problem.

He added: “How can you get more people to travel by bus when you are cutting services?

“London and other European cities have bus services that work and have integrated tickets which is something we need.

“Though rail travel gets all the publicity, most public transport is by bus.”Mr Reynolds favours the Greater Manchester bus network being brought back into public ownership.

He said: “The network should provide a service for everyone.

“The Oxford Road corridor in Manchester is supposed to be the busiest route in Europe.

“Yet in Stalybridge, Carrbrook and the top of Gee Cross there has been lots of issues with bus services.

“We need a service where the more profitable parts subsidise the less profitable ones.”

And local campaigners, who are planning to hold public meetings, have the backing of the independently funded lobby group Better Buses for Greater Manchester and local MPs,
Councillor Jacqueline Owen, who represents Longdendale ward, is a regular bus user so has personally witnessed the issues and regularly hears the grumbles of other passengers as they have been late for work, missed hospital appointments and become trapped at home as a result or services being cut.

Cllr Owen, who has been co-ordinating local protests, believes poor bus services are impacting the whole community, especially the elderly and vulnerable.

She said: “A lot of work and money has been invested into projects to combat social isolation. This will be hampered by a lack of a regular and reliable bus service.

“The knock-on of this will be more pressure on medical services and the budgets of the NHS, as evidence shows that people who are active and engaged in their communities have better health and well-being.

“The traders in Hyde and Stalybridge have commented about the decline in footfall, surely this will only increase if there are poor transport links.”

Pascale Robinson, from Better Buses for Greater Manchester, said the organisation is calling for buses in Greater Manchester to return to public ownership, something Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is also advocating.

Mr Burnham is looking to create a model for Greater Manchester similar to London.

Pascale said: “We deserve a lot more money to be spent on public transport with Greater Manchester bus services reduce and some weekend services completely withdrawn.

“Eight million bus miles have been lost in Greater Manchester since 2010. Bus fares went up 6.7 per cent in January and also increased the year before.

“Passengers are being asked to pay more for a worse service which is unacceptable.”

Cllr Owen detailed issues with local bus services.

397 – Hyde to Hollingworth removed some time ago. Residents need to get to Hyde for things such as the bank, opticians, Union Street medical centre where chiropody and dental services are based, their MP etc. The postal address is Hollingworth, Hyde – yet they cannot get there on a bus.

The solution is to extend the 201 from the end of John Kennedy Road, Hattersley, to the turning circle at Longdendale High school at the very least.

236 – Service to be withdrawn on Sundays leaving the 237 as the only bus in and out of Hollingworth.

389 – Current route from Ashton to Hyde via Ridge Hill and Yew Tree Estates to be reduced to a circular route between Ashton and
Dukinfield.

This will have a massive impact on Newton and Hyde as this is the only bus that travels directly to Tameside Hospital and Ashton Sixth Form College.

The 389 currently runs two buses each hour. Passengers wanting to go to Stalybridge from Hyde will have to now use the 343 which is only one bus per hour.

To get to Hyde will now involve walking to The Cheshire Cheese Junction or Talbot Road from the Lodge Lane area, not helpful for older people or those with mobility issues.

To get to Ashton will mean a lengthy walk to Talbot Road or Findel. Only one of the bus stops has a shelter and seating, not helpful for older people or those with mobility issues.

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