Fears that a ’vital’ bus route for elderly Skegness residents could have been lost through funding cuts have been allayed by service providers.
Lincolnshire County Council has announced it has ‘no plans’ to remove subsidies for the number 39 service, following concerns raised by many of its elderly passengers.
The news has delighted 82-year-old Peter Jarvis who previously feared the route would be terminated when its current contract expired at the end of March.
He said: “The route is a lifeline for many of its elderly passengers who would find it very difficult to cope without it,
“The government has made it law that pensioners can travel for free but there’s little point in having a free bus pass if there’s no bus to travel on.”
The number 39 service is the only route covering many residential areas of Skegness, which many elderly people rely on to go shopping, visit their doctor or socialise with friends.
Mr Jarvis feared its cancellation would have left many of its users confined to their homes and had begun a campaign against its cancellation.
Many of the pensioners using the route had offered to forgo their free travel entitlement to retain the service, although its operator Brylaine Travel explained that would have been illegal.
Operations director Malcolm Wheatley told Mr Jarvis that a similar plan attempted by East Yorkshire Motor Service ‘soon fell foul of the law.’
“It would appear that the Department for Transport would rather see services lost than admit the system is not working and relent,” he said.
However, Mr Wheatley said he felt ‘reasonably confident’ the number 39 service would continue with council subsidies.
And principal transport officer at Lincolnshire County Council Terri Marshall has since confirmed that likelihood.
She said: “We have no plans to remove our subside for the number 39 bus service in Skegness.
“The contract with the existing operator will naturally expire on March 31 so we are currently tendering a new contract.
“The operator may change depending on the outcome of the tender process, but this will only happen if another operator represents better value for money.”