Distress as estate's buses are axed again

May 08 2017

PENSIONER Rita Blanchard faces a bill of £24 a week for taxis to and from her doctor's surgery now that the bus service between Lodge Causeway and Fishponds has been axed again.

PENSIONER Rita Blanchard faces a bill of £24 a week for taxis to and from her doctor's surgery now that the bus service between Lodge Causeway and Fishponds has been axed again.

The removal of the 16 route and changes to the 17 also mean that many people living in Hillfields feel isolated.

Bosses at bus company First withdrew the services on April 30, just 16 months after they had reinstated buses to the estate, saying they had “listened to feedback from residents in Hillfields”.

Mrs Blanchard, 79, who led the campaign to get the buses back in 2015, said First's action was unbelievable.

“We are distressed, dumbfounded and distraught,” she said. “We feel we are an estate that is being left out of everything. Why are we being penalised?”

Mrs Blanchard said residents had come to her door, some in tears, begging her to fight again, and she had organised a new petition, which had already drawn nearly 500 signatures. Shops in Lodge Causeway, as well as Morrisons in Fishponds, had helped, and Hillfields councillors Anna Keen and Craig Cheney had raised all complaints with the bus company, but to no avail.

First said the route was not commercially viable. South Gloucestershire Council sought another operator, but could not find one that could run the service for the budget available.

Councillors Keen and Cheney said they were disappointed and "felt very let down" by First's change of heart. They said they would continue to campaign for bus services for Hillfields and to work with residents to find alternative transport.