Age forum slams cuts to bus services

Gazette & Herald: Age forum slams cuts to bus services Age forum slams cuts to bus services

CAMPAIGNERS have warned bus cuts are causing big problems for many elderly people - with one 94 year old paying £26 for a taxi to see her doctor because services had been so badly cut.

Hambleton Over Fifties Forum, a group set up through Age UK to give older people in the district a voice, organised a meeting after mounting concern over reductions in services .

Secretary Paul Fisher said more than 35 people turned up to express their concern about the effect the changes had on their lives - many others phoned to say they had issues but the timetables wouldn’t allow them to attend, because they would miss their last bus home.

North Yorkshire County Council cut £2 million from bus subsidies across the county earlier this year as part of massive government budget cuts of £94 million. The authority said less popular routes were targeted, but thousands of people objected.

Mr Fisher said the main concerns included access to doctors surgeries and hospitals at both Northallerton and Middlesbrough and access to the railway station for people living between Stokesley and Northallerton

He said finding up to date timetables was also a big problem and that while many bus companies have timetables on the internet, some members had made it clear that if you were not on the internet then an internet timetable was useless.

He added: “Many expressed concern about the lack of co-ordination in timetables. It now takes six and a half hours to get to Darlington and back for one Northallerton resident. The Hutton Rudby service had been so badly cut it meant a £26 taxi fare to get to the doctors in Northallerton for one 94-year-old lady.

“Leeming Village residents have seen their services cut from 18 buses a week to just four on Northallerton market days and people living in Bylands felt trapped with no bus service.”

The forum is now passing on suggestions made by people about how services can be improved to the bus operators and to North Yorkshire County Council but the authority has already said they are considering how further cuts to subsidies can be made.

The forum is now looking at holding a meeting in Thirsk to check on issues over bus subsidies in the town.

The forum can be contacted at northallerton@ageuknorthyorkshire.org.uk

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire County Council said: “We are providing what we can within our resources but we will give careful consideration to the issues raised by the Forum and will make improvements where we can.”

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