Bus plans ‘will cut off city’s old people’

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CUTS to a city bus service could ‘isolate’ older people, a councillor has warned.

But Cllr Lynne Stagg admits Portsmouth City Council is powerless to stop the 13 and 14 services being pared back by bus company First.

Cllr Stagg is alarmed at plans which will reduce the frequency of the 13, and also reduce the number of places the services call at.

The buses run between Portsmouth city centre, Fratton, Milton, and Baffins every 15 minutes Monday to Friday, every 30 minutes on Saturdays and every hour on Sundays. They follow the same route, linking Baffins Pond, Lake Road and New Road. But under First’s scheme, which will start on December 4, the routes will be split in two.

The 13 will travel every 30 minutes, and only travel as far as Milton.

It will no longer stop at Lake Road and Eastern Road and will follow a new route on Mariners Walk and Warren Avenue, residential streets in Milton.

The 14 service will run at the same intervals but will travel from Gunwharf Quays and Portsmouth College, on Tangier Road, Copnor.

It will no longer call at Lake Road and Eastern Road and will not stop at Moorings Way’s junction with Warren Avenue, or Eastern Road’s junction with Hayling Avenue.

Cllr Stagg, Lib Dem councillor for Baffins and former leader for transport, said: ‘The advantages are an improved service to the college, and a weekday service from The Hard, where the 13 and 14 only call on Saturdays and Sundays at the moment. But they’ll remove bus stops at Moorings Way’s junction with Shearwater Avenue and Warren Avenue, Eastern Road’s junction with Eastern Avenue and Cornmill Street’s City Centre North stop.

‘At Shearwater and Warren Avenue, older people rely on the stop to get to town. This will isolate them, and cut them off from important parts of their lives. There’s little we can do. The council doesn’t subsidise the service. If we tell First it’s not acceptable, they can pull the service.’

Simon Newport, First South West and Wales’ regional route development manager, said: ‘We understand some people oppose the changes, but they have been made to ensure the routes remain viable. Service 13 / 14 is not financially viable but it is hoped through improving the direct connections with Portsmouth city centre more people, and possibly those who do not use bus services, will be tempted on to the buses.’