Stagecoach have confirmed the planned withdrawal of the 530 and 552 bus services, which would have seen them removed from operation after 26th October, has been deferred for 3 weeks.
Stagecoach who have been in conversations with local MP Tim Farron, have agreed to extend the delivery of both services until 16th November, allowing further time to work together with the hope to find a solution for retaining links to Levens, Arnside and surrounding areas.
The withdrawal announcement followed as a result of Stagecoach losing two school contracts in September which means the routes are no longer viable on a commercial basis. Tim Farron MP is seeking to find a solution to provide a continuation of the service with support from local residents and parish councils, and will meet with Stagecoach in person on 7th November to discuss ideas on how this may be possible.
Mark Whitelocks, Managing Director of Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire has welcomed recent talks, “withdrawing a service is not a decision we enter into lightly and is only considered as the very last resort. Regretfully, we are unable to continue operating the 530 and 552 in their current form without support from others. The County Council, who have a statutory duty to consider financial support to services which are not commercially viable, continue to stand by their position in which they do not subsidise local bus services despite the high risk of communities becoming isolated. Our decision to defer the ending of these services has been taken in the hope that a solution can be found to maintain links to the communities who currently benefit from the 530 and 552 services in the longer term.”
Tim Farron MP said, “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to agree to keep the 530 and 552 going for another three weeks, both bus services are vital links for our local villages. I want to thank local residents, and parish councils including Arnside, Beetham and Natland who have been gathering support for the continuation of these services in their communities. I look forward to continuing to work with Stagecoach and other organisations to try and a find a long-term practical solution.”