Bus timetables in Northampton were changed ‘because free parking made town centre too busy’

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A bus company changed its timetables because free car parking was making Northampton town centre too busy.

Stagecoach said last month’s major overhaul in the timetable, including in Kingsley Park, was due to passenger numbers going down, particularly at weekends and worsening congestion in the town centre in the last six months.

In a letter to Labour councillor Cathrine Russell, Stagecoach bosses said the latter was due to lower fuel prices for cars and a significant increase in the amount of free car parking offered by the Northampton Borough Council.

The company said that it saw a “marked deterioration” in punctuality of many Northampton services, which may put its operating licence at risk.

To improve punctuality, Stagecoach therefore withdrew the number 14 route between East Hunsbury and the town centre, for example, replacing it with an extension of service 12 from Kings Heath.

It is understood that the loss of revenue led to services from West Hunsbury being axed.

As well as the timetable changes themselves, the short period of notice given has stirred the ire of passengers.

Councillor Russell, who wrote to Stagecoach over the loss of services to her ward of Kingsley, said: “When I asked for an explanation why local residents had not been fully informed or even consulted, Stagecoach Midlands said bus companies “do not consult with local residents in advance of service reductions, as this slows down service changes and leads to greater cutbacks in order to correct their financial performance.”

Stagecoach and Northampton Borough Council were both contacted for comment.