23 May 2012: There’s growing outrage in Lancaster as bus information for passengers is being whittled away.
The first cuts came last November, when Lancashire County Council decided it was going to switch off the electronic information boards in Lancaster bus station as part of a cost-cutting plan. The boards show up-to-date information on bus times, and turning them off is estimated to save the council just £175,000 a year.
The decision caused uproar amongst passengers, but despite a petition from local people the boards have remained switched off since 1st December.
Now, thanks to further spending cutbacks, printed service information on bus stops has also been removed, saving the council another £100,000 and saddling passengers with extra costs instead. The only way to find out when a bus is due is now with a premium rate phone and text service advertised in the spaces where the timetables used to appear (read a local newspaper report here)
This destructive anti-public transport policy is in complete contrast to the millions of pounds the council is putting into the huge and unnecessary Heysham-M6 Link Road, which local campaigners are opposing.
With more than £8 million already spent on preparations for the road, another £12 million committed to build the road, alongside a Department for Transport contribution of £111 million (and the council also liable for any cost overruns), spending little more than £200,000 on basic bus information seems like a bargain in comparison. However, it appears that the council has so little commitment to its public transport users that even this amount is too much.
A guest post from our Sustainable Transport Campaigner, Sian Berry