Residents call for reinstatement of 'lifeline' bus service to get to and from major supermarket in Northampton

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“Residents want it back,” says councillor

Residents are calling for a lifeline Northampton bus route to be reinstated after the service was axed in 2022.

Many residents in the Hunsbury area of the town are calling for the return of the number three bus service, which was discontinued by Stagecoach in October 2022.

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The service, which transported residents in the area to and from Tesco Extra in Mereway, was deemed ‘not financially viable without support from West Northants Council (WNC),’ according to Stagecoach.

The number three service was cut from Camp Hill (pictured) and Briar Hill in 2022 but was later reinstated. Now Hunsbury residents are calling for the same to happen in their area.The number three service was cut from Camp Hill (pictured) and Briar Hill in 2022 but was later reinstated. Now Hunsbury residents are calling for the same to happen in their area.
The number three service was cut from Camp Hill (pictured) and Briar Hill in 2022 but was later reinstated. Now Hunsbury residents are calling for the same to happen in their area.

A Stagecoach spokesman said: “In 2022, an analysis of our service three showed that the volume of passengers traveling along Ladybridge Drive was minimal, making the service unsustainable along that section. We reviewed a number of options, but all failed to make the service viable without financial support from the council. The number of passengers traveling from Camp Hill and Briar Hill is far higher, which is why we have been able to maintain the service from these areas.”

The knock-on effects of the service, previously described as a ‘lifeline’, has left one resident ‘distressed’.

A resident wrote to the Chronicle and Echo, saying: “My 85-year-old friend is very distressed since the number three bus through West Hunsbury, then on to Tesco, was cancelled. She has no car, and there is no way she can walk up the steep hill to Tesco. She can't even get to her doctor at Camp Hill now. I appreciate the need to economise, but surely it would have been much fairer to restrict the service to two an hour and continue them on the original route down to Ladybridge Drive and on to Tesco. I am sure my friend is not alone.”

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Conservative councillor Pinder Chauhan (East Hunsbury and Shelfleys ward) says getting the service back is ‘definitely a priority’ but warned, ‘these things do take a while.’

The WNC councillor said: “It’s been an area of focus for us because we have an aging population there, it’s on a hill, and people struggle to walk.

“The last meeting we had was positive. There is government funding coming in, and there’s a consultation at the moment to look at bus routes. We’re looking to sort this so we can have a decent bus service for residents. It’s definitely a priority and definitely an area we are looking at. I think the mood is residents want it back. They’re saying they don’t need it as frequently, just at core times.

"We need to improve the bus routes and services, and that’s what the consultation is about. These things do take a while, but the Government has given above £2m to look at additional funding.”

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Councillor Chauhan went on to outline WNC’s potential approach to reinstating the service.

She said: “We need to make sure it is sustainable. So we need to get the bus companies to a point where they are profitable. Give them that hand but also make sure residents are using the service regularly.

"WNC has also asked for buses to have more of an innovative route. Not the same route. We’re looking at different ways of getting people around and making sure the youth are getting the focus they need as well as the more aging population.”