Bus axe has stranded us say furious locals

Angry residents have hit out at transport bosses for axing a bus service, saying it has left people “stranded” and demanding it is brought back.

People living in Top Lock criticised the decision to withdraw the 614 bus route, saying it means the community now has just one service an hour going to and from Wigan town centre.

Residents of Top Lock protest against the cutting of the 614 bus service. They are, from left, Andrew Diggins, Albert Blackley, Jimmy Roberts, Albert Garner and Gareth Jones

Residents of Top Lock protest against the cutting of the 614 bus service. They are, from left, Andrew Diggins, Albert Blackley, Jimmy Roberts, Albert Garner and Gareth Jones

Protestors say the decision to cut the Diamond Buses-operated service means residents have been late for appointments and have to carefully scrutinise timetables to get into town and then home again.

They slammed the lack of consultation over the move and called for the 613 service to go back to two separate routes as the journey is now too long and slow.

However, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) hit back, saying its subsidy for the 614 was taken away because not enough residents used it.

Campaigner Gareth Jones said: “I’ve got friends who used the buses regularly who are now paying for taxis, and if you miss a bus in Wigan you’re now stuck there for an hour.

“I know people who’ve missed appointments and sometimes you have to go an hour and a half early to be there on time.

“I want the 614 reinstated so the 613 can go back to doing its own route to Bottling Wood. They extended it to New Springs and Top Lock and it takes absolutely ages to get from Wigan to here. It should be split again into two services, like previously.

“I wouldn’t mind but they didn’t tell anybody. I couldn’t believe they just completely cut it off with no notification to anybody.”

Residents say the final 614 service ran at 11.30pm on Saturday April 22 and accused the authorities of neglecting Top Lock, saying there are few shops for local residents to use and public transport provision has been gradually scaled back in recent years.

TfGM, on the other hand, said low passenger numbers were the reason for the 614 going and residents did have other bus options.

Diamond Buses said it was not possible to continue running it without financial input from TfGM.

A TfGM spokesman said: “We regularly review how many passengers are using subsidised bus services.

“Our subsidy for the 614 service was withdrawn due to low usage, coupled with the availability of alternative services (576 and 715). This is not a decision that was taken lightly but with the intention of making best use of the money available to us to subsidise bus services across Greater Manchester.

“Monitoring service use in this way and making minor changes enables TfGM to help more people remain connected to family, friends, jobs, health and leisure opportunities via public transport and helps to achieve value for money.”