Sunderland OAPs fight bus service changes
Elderly bus passengers have stepped up their fight against bus route changes by handing petitions to their local MP.
Residents of Oakfield Court in East Herrington, and fellow OAPs living in sheltered housing on Plains Road, Plains Farm, joined forces after hearing the buses they rely on are under review.
They have now met with Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson, to hand over petitions, they hope will influence Stagecoach to keep the services running.
Elderly Oakfield Court residents, are concerned that they will have to walk to the Board Inn roundabout on the A690, approximately half-a-mile away, to catch the Number 4 bus. A petition attracted 76 signatures.
The Plains Road residents, many of whom are in their 80s, also face a similar hike for the Number 18 and 19 services, which they face losing altogether in the evenings.
Many of the residents, who rely on public transport to see their GP and access other local amenities, raised concerns over the impact of the cuts to local bus services that have been carried out over the last few years. A petition gathered 212 signatures.
Ms Phillipson said: “Local residents contacted me to express their concerns about changes to Stagecoach bus services and I wanted to hear at first hand exactly how these changes will affect their everyday lives.
“Many residents were distressed that they will be cut off when these changes happen. They depend entirely on public transport to get about and access key services such as hospital appointments.
“They are disappointed that no consultation has taken place to find a way forward. I would urge Stagecoach to think again and consider the impact of their plans on some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.”
Stagecoach North East’s commercial director, Robin Knight, said: “We periodically review our services, to check that we’re best meeting the needs of the majority of customers, and we recently conducted a full review of how people are using our bus services across Sunderland.
“As a result, we’ve made some changes, which provide some new links, change some routes and aim to improve time-keeping on a number of services.
“Whenever we make changes, we appreciate that some people would prefer things to stay as they were and so take great care to consider all the implications, including discussing the proposals with our colleagues at Nexus. We’ve responded in detail to any customers and local Councillors expressing particular concerns, to explain how we’ve reached these decisions.”