Bus firm pledges to listen to protestors

TRAVEL operator First Bus has today vowed to improve its services in the Holme Valley.

TRAVEL operator First Bus has today vowed to improve its services in the Holme Valley.

The pledge follows a noisy protest at the weekend when residents gathered to object to the company’s plans for what they see as a vital bus service.

Over 100 pensioners, together with friends and family and local politicians, blockaded Holmfirth Bus Station to spread the message to the company that they would not take lightly its plans to alter its 313 service between Huddersfield and Hepworth, cutting out vital links between New Mill and Jackson Bridge.

Managing director Alan Pilbeam vowed that First is going to step up its communication with the Holmfirth community.

He said: “We have undertaken extensive consultations with councillors, local authorities and Metro West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and have revised our proposals to provide solutions to the concerns raised.

“With our partners, we are now focusing our efforts on communication with local residents.

“Because we have been spending time listening to the concerns of unhappy customers, we have been unable to provide adequate and up-to-date information to the rest of our customers.”

Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford was among critics of the bus company for allegedly failing to provide suitable services in rural communities.

She says it is not providing a public service, despite getting subsidies to do so.

The MP said: “Residents are still not happy about the changes. There is a great deal to be done to make sure some communities aren’t isolated.

“First get quite a bit of subsidy from the Government, including a rural bus subsidy and money to subsidise diesel fuel. I firmly believe that should mean they should provide a public service.”

Last month protesters submitted a 1,000-name petition opposing the cutss.

Residents are concerned that the changes to the new timetable will leave them isolated and forced to walk for over a mile to the nearest bus stop. First Bus says that from December 9 it will be amending the current service format of seven hourly routes, which are the 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314 and 316.

There will instead be a streamlined network along two key corridors, which will be numbered 313 and 314/316 and operate more frequently to “grow custom and revitalise the declining network”.

The company says that in addition to better coordination, the network will benefit from direct peak hour express buses between Huddersfield and Holmfirth.

Mr Pilbeam added: “It was recognised that several areas where the bus suffers from low passenger numbers, most notably Sheffield Road between New Mill and Jackson Bridge, will no longer be served. Another concern raised was the increase in journey time for customers from Hepworth and Scholes into Huddersfield.

“But this was offset by the frequency of this service being doubled.”

Further amendments will include several morning journeys operating along Sheffield Road into Huddersfield, an additional Holme Valley minibus serving Holmfirth to Hepworth via Sheffield Road and more buses into Huddersfield before 9am.

Other changes to the service from December 9 will include more buses for Holmbridge, Scholes, Hepworth, Brockholes and Thongsbridge.

 

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