A petition has been launched in a bid to halt proposed cuts to Stagecoach bus services in Thanet.
From August 28, there will be timetable changes affecting routes 8, 8A, 8X, 9, 32, 34, 45 and Loop. School-time services 932, 933, 943, 946, 948, 949 and 989 will also change.
Route 33 (Eastern Esplanade, Kingsgate, Grange Road, Stanley Road, East Dumpton and Colburn Road) and Route 37 (Stanley Road, Lanthorne Road/Stone Road, St. Peter’s Village and The Silvers) will no longer operate and from the same date, route 9 will no longer run between Monkton and Canterbury.
There will also be a raft of timetable alterations and changes to school bus services.
Stagecoach cuts to Thanet services and route changes
A petition has now been launched by Broadstairs resident and former councillor Jenny Matterface who led the campaign against cuts by Kent County Council to subsidised routes in 2018.
This campaign resulted in some routes being retained. Now the campaign has been reactivated and a new petition is gathering pace.
Jenny said: “We had some success three to four years ago when, although some routes were changed and timetabling less than perhaps what we would have liked, we kept our bus routes that are a vital link for many, not just the elderly.
“These current proposals will have a detrimental impact on many who don’t or wish not to drive because communities will be left stranded without transport. Public transport should be available for all who need it.”
The campaign is being backed by Broadstairs councillor Aram Rawf.
Cllr Aram, who represents Beacon Road ward on the town and district councils, has voiced concern about the impact on the community if the 33 and 37 routes are axed and the 9 route shortened.
He said: “The axing of Thanet bus routes 33 and 37, and the shortening of route 9, will affect many students, parents with pushchairs and elderly people trying to get out and about in the district.
“Students, families and those travelling to employment, including key workers, find buses cheaper than the train even where it is available, while there are children who have legal entitlement to free school transport.
“With the cost of living and petrol prices in particular going up, many elderly people rely on buses to get them out of their house. For some, it may be the only day-to-day contact they have with other people. These bus cuts will have social and psychological effects on many elderly people.
“Instead of cutting the buses, we need to see improvements to encourage people to use them in order to reduce the number of cars on the roads and help address the climate emergency.”
Fellow Broadstairs ward councillor Mike Garner said the cuts during the cost of living crisis are the wrong decision: “I’ve been contacted by a number of residents in my ward who rely on the bus to go about their daily business and are now concerned that they will struggle with everything from shopping to attending Doctors appointments.
“As an example, the 37 is the only bus which serves the Wimpey Estate and these cuts mean a number of people who struggle to walk and either don’t have or can’t afford a car will become more isolated. This is a scenario which will be replicated in other towns across Kent. This reduction in services during a cost of living crises is the wrong decision at the wrong time and we need to press Stagecoach to think again before it’s too late.”
County Councillor Karen Constantine added: “I really worry how people will manage with these cuts. Those that use these services depend on them and alternative travel is both difficult and expensive.
“People on low incomes or fixed budgets will struggle. I also worry how Stagecoach will organise services from Ramsgate and elsewhere, to the new Parkway railway station. Are they making cuts to services now in order to be able to fund future bus services to Parkway?”
Stagecoach South East Managing Director Joel MitchellJoel Mitchell, Managing Director of Stagecoach South East, said: “We’ve done everything we can to protect services since the pandemic.
“We want to regenerate our customer base and bring people back to using buses as quickly as possible so we can expand our networks, but before we can do that, we’ve got to make some difficult decisions, working closely with the County Council, to agree a new network that reflects fundamental changes to people’s travel habits brought about by the pandemic. This network review is also a condition of government recovery funding for bus services across England.
“Where some services are reduced, it’s a tough decision, because we know the impact it may have on individual people, but this new network for Thanet is designed to protect core connections and operate them on a sustainable basis against a backdrop of rising costs and labour challenges across the UK economy.”
The petition will be delivered to Mr Mitchell.
The 11 bus route (Broadstairs to Canterbury via Wickhambreaux and Ickham) has been omitted from the list.
It will fall on deaf ears unless KCC are forced into giving more subsidies. One way or another residents of Kent will be paying towards Stage Coaches bonuses to shareholders.
Even if StageCoach were to revert to minibuses the cost of Fuel, Maintenance and salaries potentially make some routes unviable.
Totally agree with you .
I’ve seen 3 buses on 37 route today in Broadstairs and not one person was onboard the bus apart from the driver .
How people expect a company to run a route that’s not making any money baffles me . Maybe if people want to keep the service then they a simple way to do it is KCC remove free travel on these 37&33 routes then it makes money and potentially viable .
My husband and I use the 33 and 37 as it is a steep hill up Crow Hill to get to the chess Board area. Please don’t take it off.
Stagecoach plc have not paid a dividend since 2019.
The petition will not make a single bit of difference .
If it’s not making money it will be cut it’s simple .
Why would a company operate a service that’s costs money if it’s not making any .
Ive seen so many empty 37s and 33s so why should it run .
People had the chance to use it but haven’t so it’s going . Amazing how a petition starts I wonder how many who sign actually use the service ( probably very little )
You obviously do not use the 33i use its always 3/4 full
I do actually every day and it’s far from 3/4 full .
Its not a viable service that’s why it’s going . There is 8a and loops available it’s being treated like there is no buses .
You are probably able to walk to these loop stops ,try being less selfish
Everyone is entitled to there opinions.
I agree with the company if it’s not viable the service will stop .
I am nowhere near a loop or 8a service the 37 takes me to gp and hospital appointments. 37 is early bus for me 8.30 otherwise a cab I am unable to walk heart problems and getting older. Not able t get cabs now prices too high so just curl up in corner if you had your way we have this battle every so many years me waste of time he not interested
I use it regularly as do the many elderly non-drivers who live on the route. I’ve heard today of people in tears at the thought of being iso!aged due to no transport. This morning I saw a queue at the Co-op in Hopeville Avenue waiting for their bus.
Yesterday the 33 I was on was best part full.
In any case if we all took your approach nothing would ever change.If you don’t try, you fail.
It always comes down to profit, but a bus service should be to provide a GOOD service for everyone who needs it.
It should be a government subsidised service.
It does not really matter whether there is 4passengers or the bus is full people are entitled to a goo public transport service,many of the passengers who use the 32service live in Palm bay,(are they expected to walk nearly 2miles to get to the loop service.
The 8a is 2 buses an hr from Palm Bay to Margate & Cliftonville and there are loops and 34s connecting at Cecil sq .
Not much use to me, I don’t live at Palm Bay but at Reading Street. Yes, I can walk to the Loop if necessary but I wouldn’t want to do so carrying shopping or if I were less mobile than I am.
It should be viewed as a public service not run for profit but because companies are owned by shareholders that principle is lost.
The slash and burn policy is being applied elsewhere.
KCC have just signed up to a Bus Improvement Plan not a Bus Removal plan. They are supposed to have an enhanced partnership with Stagecoach, so where is the evidence for that?
I would stop squabbling amongst yourselves about the viability of a particular bus route, I would instead insist on a series of consultation meetings with KCC and Stagecoach and sit down and work out a viable network that might mitigate the cuts.
As there might be a general election in the offing I would gee up MacKinlay and Gale to knock heads together.
The fuel crisis and the inflation crisis may pass, and what is needed is a temporary fix, if needs be another temporary fix, until something can be arranged to deliver some savings to Stagecoach and at the same time wake up KCC.
Those of you who own or have access to a car might well view the situation with equanimity, and might believe that cutting bus services will help deliver tax cuts, but that is not very community minded or thoughtful of others less fortunate than you.
Believe it or not the old Dennis Dart shown in picture may still be operating somewhere in the Stagecoach empire, probably in Kent.
The East Kent operation is definitely the museum network, with clapped out buses, which I think is part of the problem. The loop rolling stock is renewed every 5/6 years, but elsewhere 13 to 17 years is the norm.
Stagecoach have put off renewing the fleet to hoard cash for selling the business on, and now DWS own it, the bill for investment has come in and hence cut away services need fewer buses.
In all reality it comes down to privatisation. Are people willing to pay for the services, or let private companies decide what they want to do.
Correct. Keep on voting for Conservatism and small government and that’s what we get. Privatised services where if it loses money it stops being provided.
Not forgetting the work from home brigade, not using public transport. Less fares paid can only = less service.Less staff required.
Same will happen on the trains, were doomed Our lovely country is struggling in many ways.
It all started with Maggie thatcher (loads of money for them but not us).
Which originally were subsides bus routes by KCC 38 and 56 bus.
It’s the same owner of mansion goath she just takes and run’s. Should be all back under government control then shareholders get nothing. Asap
Not any more.It’ a public limited company owned by a German one. Neither Mrs Gloag nor her brother are involved any longer.
Whilst cars are perceived to be a cheaper and better option than buses, then the latter will mostly be catering for a minority of people: the very old, the very young, the disabled, for example. Bus companies, unless they are subsidised, aren’t going to make much money out of those passengers.
So, substantially increase taxes and duties on private cars, use that money to provide a wider and cheaper bus network, and we all benefit. People who are happy to leave the car at home and get the bus instead free up road space for those who think they absolutely must drive their cars.
Cllr Mike garner is wrong the 37 isn’t the only bud that serves wimpy estate the 9 goes through the estate to broadstairs and Ramsgate , Westwood this is not changing
More people use a bus service if it is at the very least hourly, punctual and reliable. Parking is difficult and expensive in Broadstairs and streets are congested. A decent bus service, which the 37 is not at the moment, run as a real public service, not for profit, would be better supported than the current sparse provision and help to reduce pollution in the town centre.
Am I hearing things correctly , That they want us to use the CAR more now, dur to cuts in Public transport ,IS THAT THERE SUGGESTION ????
We regularly use the Palm bay to Broadstairs Bus , as trying to park a car in Broadstairs is almost impossible