Angry passengers blast changes to bus service

05-0047-1   aw 100105''NEW TRENT BARTON CONNECT BUS SERVICE HUCKNALL TRAM STATION
05-0047-1 aw 100105''NEW TRENT BARTON CONNECT BUS SERVICE HUCKNALL TRAM STATION
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ENRAGED passengers have fired a broadside at a bus company for slashing a Hucknall route in a bid to save money.

Trent Barton has reviewed its Connect service, which links outlying parts of the town with High Street and the main tram and train station.

Major changes to Connect have included one bus-route being completely axed.

The move has caused fury among those who use the service to get to work and the elderly who rely on the bus to get into Hucknall town centre.

More than 30 residents turned out for a meeting of the Reach Out residents group to air their protests and sent an unequivocal appeal to the company — please change your mind.

Now a petition has been launched across Hucknall in a bid to force a re-think on the changes.

Sally Wyatt, chairman of Reach Out, said at the meeting: “There has been no consultation with people who use the service.

“It’s OK someone sat behind a desk making a decision. But we know that the changes won’t work.”

When it was launched, the Connect was the first commercial bus-link in the UK to feed into a tram service.

It offered two services — Connect Red and Connect Blue — with two buses operating on each.

Now the Blue route, which served Ruffs Estate, Beauvale, Common Lane, Wood Lane and then High Street in the direction of Bulwell, will no longer run.

Instead, just three buses will run on the Red route. This operates a loop in the opposite direction along West Street, Wood Lane, Common Lane and then through Beauvale and Ruffs Estate, on to the Welbeck Estate and back to the main tram station along Portland Road.

It features only one stop on High Street, outside the Salvation Army near the Byron Cinema building.

Trent says the route covers the same areas as before. But objectors say the changes mean fewer buses and longer journey-times.

Darren Gough, brand manager of the Connect service for Trent Barton, revealed at the Reach Out meeting that his bosses originally wanted to reduce the service to only two buses on the Red route. But he fought to get a third bus.

He told the meeting the changes were necessary because the Connect service was losing money and it cost the company £500 a day to run a single bus on the route, which was not subsidised.

“A lot of people are going to be upset by the changes,” Mr Gough admitted. “I for one don’t like change. But when we get into the new timetable more, it can be tweaked.”

Protesters complained that the service would no longer be viable for them and it would be quicker, in some cases, to walk into Hucknall.

Towards the end of the meeting, one man quipped: “The service would be better named Dis-connect, rather than Connect.”