The shake-up to the current Ashford area bus routes is certainly causing a large amount of anxiety and distress, more than I can remember in any previous time. So many routes are potentially affected because two separate things are happening.
The first is that Kent County Council is trying to find ways to reduce the subsidies it provides to many routes around the county, not just here in Ashford. In this instance there is still a chance to affect what is happening, as the consultation on these proposals runs until April 20th.
Forty-eight routes are under threat, including some that take children to school every morning. These include the 123 and the HS7/8. Also proposed for removal are the Tenterden Hopper and Ashford Kent Karrier services, along with all the other Kent Karrier routes.
Anyone who uses these routes should be contributing to the consultation, which is available at kent.gov.uk/bussavings. This will obviously be particularly important to those whose children use the buses to go to school every day.
On top of this, Stagecoach has decided to cut some of the other routes, including most notably the G line which is important to people in Willesborough, Godinton and Repton. From the size of the response to this I am surprised that this is not a commercially successful route. There are other Stagecoach cuts that attract strong opposition, if so far not as vocal.
I know that Ashford Borough Councillors are working hard to preserve essential services, and I have given my own thoughts to Stagecoach as well. The underlying point is that bus services are by their nature flexible, so if a route is only popular for some times of day it is possible to run services only at those times. I hope that common sense will prevail.