Dismay as bus operator announces route changes

Go Whippet announces route changes

Go Whippet announces route changes - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of people are set to lose out as a series of bus routes connecting Huntingdonshire villages to the district’s major towns are to be reduced – or even scrapped.

Commuters and those without access to cars say the buses are a vital link and that they will be hit hardest by operator Go Whippet’s plan to cut back on services.

In statement on its website, Go Whippet noted: “As part of a continued review of our local bus services, we have identified a number of journeys which do not carry sufficient numbers of passengers to justify the whole day’s operating costs.”

The routes affected are the 1, 1a, 3, 5 and 21, and the changes to the timetable are set to come into effect from November 14.

As a part of the cost-saving plan, Go Whippet will redirect existing routes, cutting out villages from major towns and Cambridge, and cutting peak time services from St Ivo School and Huntingdonshire Regional College.

Among the changes, the 1A service will soon run hourly between St Ives bus station and Drummer Street, in Cambridge, from Monday to Saturday, and will no longer include Houghton, Wyton, Godmanchester or Huntingdon.

The existing Sunday service will also be scrapped.

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Wyton resident, David Ireland said: “There are a lot of people in the villages who use the bus every day to get into Huntingdon. It is the only means of transport for some people and a lot of them rely on it.

“I have tried to speak to Go Whippet about the changes but I have been stonewalled.”

Chairman of Houghton and Wyton Parish Council, Councillor Lesley Craig said that villagers are “upset and disappointed” at the news.

However, there is some relief for those living in the villages as Go Whippet has announced that hopes to add an extra three buses, in each direction, to its 45A service from Monday to Friday.

This has been welcomed by Cllr Craig for those want to travel during the day time but she added that it “does nothing to help those in education and employment or tourists”.

In a letter sent to Houghton and Wyton Parish Council, Matthew Wooll, Whippet Go’s commercial manager, said the company had “not been covering its operating costs for a long time” for the service and that it had “made a number of changes over the last 18 months to try and rectify this, but unfortunately they have not been enough”.

He added: “We are very disappointed that we had to make these necessary changes but hopefully the majority of affected passengers will still be able to travel with us” using alternative buses.

Other villages and towns affected by the changes are Fenstanton, Papworth, Houghton, Wyton, Hemingford Abbots, Hemingford Grey, Godmanchester, Ramsey, Pidley, Colne, Somersham, Earith, Bluntisham, Needingworth, Holywell, Yelling, and Graveley,.

For a full list of the changes that are set to come into affect go to: www.go-whippet.co.uk/changes-to-routes-1-1a-3-5-and-21-from-14-november-2016/.