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906 Bus service to Hardcastle Craggs/Widdop

From Kez Armitage

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

I understand this service, which ran at weekends from May to October, is not running this year.

It's a great shame that the 906, well used by locals and walkers alike, has succumbed to government cuts. It opened up large areas of countryside in the North West of Calderdale to people without their own private transport. It also brought much needed business to the remote Pack Horse pub on the way to Widdop Reservoir.

Perhaps it's time to start looking at a community transport scheme using volunteer drivers, and maybe operating on a demand responsive basis. The way things are going, whilst we may all get our free bus passes when we reach retirement age, there may be very few bus services on which we can use them!

From Andrew H

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

What have government cuts got to do with this? Perhaps I'm mistaken but I thought the bus services were run by private businesses. If that is the case then the decision has no doubt been made because the service was loss making and therefore unsustainable.

From Paul Rigg

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

In reply to Andrew H there are two types of bus service

The commercial sevices locally are the 590 and 592 in the valley bottom. The 500 to Keighley is partly commercial I think.

The TLC buses (Blackshawhead, Cragg Vale, Old Town, etc) are subsidised by Metro. Metro puts the service out to tender
and the operators bid for it. The level of service is decided by Metro. They have obviously decided that there is not enough money to run the 906 this year.

The commercial services can be cancelled purely at the whim of the operators. That's why there is no longer a Todmorden to Bacup service, or a Blackshawhead to Burnley service. They were cancelled because they weren't making any money.

From Kez Armitage

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Government cuts have everything to do with this.

Many bus services (just as train services) rely on government subsidies. These are sometimes direct from central government, or via local authorities, and are particularly relevant in rural and semi-rural areas. The argument, simply put, is that there are social and indirect economic benefits of subsidising public transport that isn't profitable. Without these subsidies, many rail and bus services would disappear. Lancashire County Council took the decision last year to cut subsidies to most rural routes, and now there are vast areas of Lancashire with no public transport whatsoever. People without cars are, quite literally, stranded.

The 906 service has received subsidies since its inception, over 10 years ago. It's never made money, and would never have run in the first place, had it been solely down to private businesses. But it received subsidies because it attracted people into the area (look at the Walkers Are Welcome website), and those people would visit pubs, shops and spend money in towns like Hebden. Indirect economic benefits in action.

The email I have seen from Metro states "Unfortunately, due to government cuts, we are unable to support service 906 this year so it will not operate."

From Paul Rigg

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thinking about it, maybe the National Trust could suport the bus as he does bring people without a car to visit their property, at both top and bottom car parks.

I'm tempted to wonder if the National Trust think everybody has a car.

From Richard Peters

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Contrary to the earlier comments in this thread, there has been no decision to cut the 906, but Metro does have to make cuts this year and it is in the frame.

Hebden Bridge Walkers Action, together with other affected organisations, are talking to Metro about the possibility of reshaping the service to achieve some savings.

A decision on the future of this service should be made in the next week or so.

Richard Peters
Hebden Bridge Walkers Action

From Duncan Watson

Friday, 3 March 2017

Metro have sent me the following email:

Thank you for contacting us about seasonal bus service 906. Due to funding cuts, WYCA are having to make savings on supported bus services in West Yorkshire, therefore all supported services have to be reviewed to ensure they are meeting our policy for continued support i.e. providing access to employment, education or shopping facilities. As this service is primarily for leisure purposes it does not directly fit within our guidelines. However, we recognise that this service is fairly well used and helps to support local businesses. Therefore, after further consideration we intend to fund this service for one more year. Please note that the first and last journeys will be withdrawn as passenger usage has been poor in previous years. The service will continue to be operated by TLC. The 2017 timetable is attached.

From Kez Armitage

Friday, 3 March 2017

Yes, I've just received the same email as Duncan Watson. It's a bit surprising that it's the same METRO department (and employee!) who a month ago informed me that the service was definitely not being funded this year!

Anyhow, it's good news. Let's hope the Walkers' Action Group, National Trust, Blue Pig, Pack Horse and other interested organisations can continue to promote this key service. This really seems to be a case of "Use it or lose it".

From Richard Peters

Friday, 3 March 2017

It's really great that Metro has listened to the arguments and proposals and have reviewed their previous proposals. We think their proposals for albeit a reduced service removes some anomalies and will not be hugely detrimental. We hope that after further representations, the format of the new timetable will be simpler and more comprehensable.

Together with the National Trust (who are acutely aware of the problems of traffic and parking) Hebden bridge Walkers Action are putting together promotional material for this year's service.

This coincides with two new paths in the Crags being constructed and the launch of the Heart of the Pennines project.

Should keep the passenger figures buoyant!

Richard Peters, Hebden Bridge Walkers Action