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Threat to 'invaluable' Carlisle bus route

Calls are being made for a community to fight possible cuts to an ‘invaluable’ bus route.

Carlisle bus photo
The 69 runs between Denton Holme and Stanwix

Campaigners fear the 69 Stanwix to Holmehead service through Carlisle city centre could be axed in a cost-cutting move.

The bus, which is run by operator Stagecoach, is used by hard-up families, pensioners and students.

It travels in a loop from Bowscale Close, through the city centre, and back into Stanwix six times a day.

Paul Nedved, city councillor for the Stanwix Urban ward, described the service as “unique and invaluable”.

He said: “It serves the community through Stanwix and offers a door-to-door service because it criss-crosses the area.

“It takes on board low-income parents with children, elderly people, and students going into the city centre.”

He has launched a campaign alongside county councillor Liz Mallinson and fellow city councillor Jacquelyne Geddes.

The three are calling on the public to unite to save the service from the chop.

Cumbria County Council has proposed cutting subsidies to bus services throughout the county as it is faced with saving £24.4m over the next year.

But Mr Nedved said the current subsidy for the 69 service, which is used by 44,000 passengers per year, is about £6,000.

This works out at 14p per passenger, which Stagecoach should be able to take on if the authority withdraws its subsidy, he believes.

In the meantime though, people are being urged to respond to the council’s budget consultation and demand that the route is saved.

It comes as Stanwix Rural parish council said it fears that potential losses of buses between Carlisle and Haltwhistle could leave residents high and dry.

Councillor Mike Fox said: “For some people these services are the only way they are able to get to work or into town.”

The county council has proposed cutting 77 subsidies in total.

Cabinet member for highways Keith Little said the authority needs to do some things differently to cope with the scale of savings it has to make.

“One of the areas would be bus services which the council subsidises on top of the fares passengers pay,” he added.

Mr Little said there is no legal requirement for the council to subsidise buses.

A spokesman for Stagecoach said: “We continue to monitor the situation with regard to the county council budget consultation and will look at all possibilities once decisions have been made.

“Any contracts operated on behalf of Cumbria County Council by Stagecoach, such as certain journeys and parts of route on the 69 service, represent a subsidy to the passenger and not to the bus company itself.

“Until a decision is made by the elected representatives of Cumbria County Council we cannot fully analyse the situation but once decisions are made we will respond appropriately.”

Have your say

yesterday i got the 12.15 bus from bowscale, between bowscale and B & M bus stop.including myself there was only 3 passengers. at the city centre bus stop i counted 2 people getting on that was 4 passengers.on the return trip 2pm from devonshire street heading for bowscale there was only 3 passengers this bus number 69 must be running at a big loss.why save a white elephant.

Posted by north of river resident. on 10 January 2014 at 09:15

Anon "If the cuts go on in this country"

Public spending has never been so high in peacetime, except 2008/9/10. This government has done nothing more than slow spending increases down until they are back in before the 2007 crash.

You need to stop reading propaganda.

Posted by tellytubby on 9 January 2014 at 14:19

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