People power saves Connect buses

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CAMPAIGNERS claim “people power” has prompted a climbdown by a company in a fight to save a bus service that was slashed in Hucknall.

For months, enraged passengers of the Connect route, which is run by Trent Barton, have complained about major changes designed to save money.

Previously the service, which links outlying parts of the town with High Street and the main tram and train station, offered two services — Red and Blue — which ran in opposite directions.

Trent decided to axe the Blue route, which served Ruffs Estate, Beauvale, Common Lane, Wood Lane and then High Street in the direction of Bulwell.

But now, after pressure from local residents and the Reach Out Residents’ group, the company has made an unexpected U-turn.

Sally Wyatt, chairman of Reach Out Residents, said: “I am absolutely delighted. Everyone has been on board with the campaign. Without people power and the efforts of residents, this would not have happened.”

The decision by Trent was first announced on the social-networking website Facebook.

The firm’s commercial director, Alex Hornby, said: “The changes saw the introduction of more frequent services, with a Red route bus every ten minutes, and the move certainly proved successful in giving Connect a viable future and stemming previous financial losses.

“However the feedback we received from our customers after making the changes has not been so positive. In some cases, with the buses travelling in just one direction, they felt their journey was a lot longer than necessary.

“We need to make sure that our services are commercially viable but we also value the views of customers and in this case, the revised timetable was met with genuine concern.”

The new timetable will be showcased at a meeting of Reach Out at the Hillcrest Drive campus of Holgate Comprehensive School on Tuesday September 6 (6.30 pm).

Trent says the re-introduced Blue route will operate alongside the Red service and will offer more convenient stops in the town centre. “It is only through listening to customers that we can develop sustainable services that meet the needs of local communities,” added Mr Hornby.

However Connect is likely to face competition from a new Red8 service, launched by the Premiere Travel bus company. It starts next Monday (September 5) and will run initially every 30 minutes around the outlying estates and then directly into Nottingham via the City Hospital.