ONLINE POLL: Is Stagecoach right to cut some of its evening services because of low useage?

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MANSFIELD district councillors say cuts to bus services running through the Oak Tree Lane Estate and other parts of the town will create problems for commuters and hike up travel costs for families.

Bus company Stagecoach are discontinuing the number 7 bus service to the Oak Tree Lane Estate after 6.15pm and axing some evening bus routes to and from Warsop, Shirebrook, Clipstone and Blidworth following cuts from central Government.

But Oak Tree ward councillor Vaughan Hopewell says the service reductions will have a detrimental affect on residents and businesses and is calling for a rethink on the proposed cutbacks.

“Stagecoach seem to have come to the conclusion that these services are not viable but they have not looked at this adequately, they should be looking at amalgamating services,” he said.

“People will find they cannot get into Mansfield to get to the hospital or a football match at Field Mill and commuters who work in Nottingham will have to get a taxi from town.”

Oak Tree’s Tesco branch also employs around 450 people and the Oak Tree Lane Leisure Centre is used by hundreds of people each week.

Some evening bus services will also be cut on Ladybrook and Mansfield’s Bull Farm Estate and between the town centre and Clipstone, while services between Mansfield and Shirebrook will no longer run after 9pm.

Coun Hopewell says that with the new multi-million pound bus station currently being built, it is particularly important for people to have access to bus services.

“All we keep hearing about is going green and people are being encouraged to get on public transport but there might be no buses running out of the new station in a few years,” he added.

“It means that Oak Tree will be served no better than a rural service rather than as part of the large town network it deserves to be.”

Coun Hopewell is now gathering together signatures for a petition in the hope that Stagecoach bosses could combine the bus service with another route.

Mansfield district councillor Derek Evans said cuts to evening bus routes between the town centre, Warsop and Shirebrook will have a serious impact on users especially people getting home from work.

“For people who live in rural areas public transport can be the only way they can get around unless they can afford a motor vehicle, they depend on using a bus,” he said.

“It seems like local authorities are having to make all the cuts, but they need to start making cuts in Whitehall, the Government seems to have a do as I say, don’t do as I do attitude.”

Stagecoach East Midlands say the cuts are due to a 20 per cent reduction on a rebate of fuel tax duty meaning an increase of 39 pence per gallon of diesel.

“Each year at Stagecoach East Midlands we use three million gallons of diesel and our annual fuel bill is around £13 million,” said Dave Skepper, commercial director for Stagecoach East Midlands.

“We have examined the passenger numbers on a trip by trip basis on all of our bus services in Mansfield to try and identify lightly used journeys with a view to trimming back under used mileage, particularly when these journeys operate outside of the core hours of the day.

“While we would rather not reduce any of our bus services, I am sure you will appreciate that where economies need to be, it is best if these are outside of the commuter periods and the main core daytime services.

“After 7.15pm there are very few people making use of Service 7 between Mansfield and Oak Tree with operating costs exceeding fares revenue and consequently we have withdrawn bus journeys after this time.

“We regret that the withdrawal of these services will cause inconvenience to the few people that are currently travelling and we are very sorry to have to take this action.

“It is always the last resort for Stagecoach to reduce or withdraw any bus service but we are unable to sustain routes or timetables that become commercially unviable.”

l For a full list of bus timetable changes visit www.stagecoachbus.com/mansfield.