Cut bus services leave us 'prisoners in our own homes', say Northampton pensioners

Cuts to bus routes brought into effect last month have left Northampton pensioners feeling like "prisoners in their own homes".

Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 9:37 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 9:43 am
Fred Bicknell, 82, says he feels like "a prisoner in his own home" after cuts to his local bus service.

A string of bus routes provided by Uno were cut down at the beginning of August, including one bus going from 20 stops a trip down to just four.

Now, just a month later, elderly bus goers say the axed routes have robbed them of their independence and they are struggling to make doctor appointments, visit friends or go shopping.

Fred Bicknell used to ride the No 19 that stopped outside his home on Trinity Avenue, Kingsley. But now the bus skips his street entirely.

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Fred Bicknell, 82, said: "I feel I've been an independent person all my life and I'm frightened I'm going to lose that.

"I feel like a prisoner in my own home," said the 82-year-old. "I miss my town centre, I miss meeting with friends.

"It's always in the back of your mind that you can't go out like you used to.

"I've had elderly ladies crying to me. They say, 'what am I going to do?'

"I used to take the bus and get out five days a week. I've been an independent person all my life and I'm frightened I'm going to lose that."

The purple Uno buses were cut down at the beginning of August.

The Uno buses - the Foxglove 18, the Violet 19, the 20 and the Lilac 21 - have all been affected. The new routes can be seen on the Uno website.

The stripped-down service comes ahead of the University of Northampton's move to the new Waterside, leading to Uno chopping many routes close to the former two campuses.

But Fred said: "To have no buses at all in an area as large as this [Kingsley] is beyond belief.

"How could they cut so many stops? They're running it, but not for anyone's convenience.

"I used to go into town on Saturdays to meet with these five friends in front of Sainsbury's. We had all lost our partners and we got together to put the world to rights.

"It made your day to know you had got someone out the house and got to chat to someone.

"I haven't seen any of them since the buses were cut.

"My niece and my sister are so supportive, but I don't want to put on them. For a person living on their own with just four walls to look at it must be terrible."

Jim Thorpe, managing director for Uno Bus, said: “I’m disappointed to learn that people are unhappy with the changes we have made. We are a commercial company and we have limited resource; this year has been particularly tough as we have faced cuts in council subsides too. Unfortunately the number of passengers using our buses in this area meant it was not viable to serve it going forward.”