Night buses must be saved says MP

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A LOCAL MP is calling on transport bosses to postpone the scrapping of a night bus service to Manchester until the guided busway opens.

Julie Hilling, parliamentary representative for Bolton West, has asked Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) not to axe the 39 route from Manchester to Leigh via Tyldesley and Atherton in January as planned.

Instead Ms Hilling, who has been contacted by several residents about the issue, is asking TfGM to keep the late-night service which is popular with both shift workers and those visiting Manchester’s leisure attractions running until the guided busway is up and running next September.

The 39 route is subsidised by TfGM and operated by First Manchester, which has decided to slash the services running between 12.30am and 3am on Saturdays and Sundays.

Ms Hilling said: “I know many residents of all ages in my constituency who use the service and it is seen to be a very popular travel option for residents who work late in Manchester and those who are just simply enjoying their weekend.

“The service is set to be replaced in September 2015 by the guided busway, but that’s nine months after the number 39 gets cut.

“Why force those residents and commuters to get other transport when we have a very popular service in place already? I am very concerned this will hit our local economy and put people’s jobs at risk.

“We are currently suffering the disruption of the building of the busway, it’s not much to ask to retain our night-bus until the busway provides a night service.”

However, TfGM says it is no longer maintaining routes which require propping up with public sector cash due to the financial pressure on town halls.

The organisation has seen its supported bus services budget reduced by £7.1m after its levy funding was frozen for 2015/16, which means all subsidies for night buses are being removed among several other cost-saving measures.

Howard Hartley, head of bus at TfGM, said: “Like all local authorities, we are now under huge pressure to make major savings as a result of national spending cuts.

“As part of the approach agreed by the Transport for Greater Manchester committee to making these savings, we are no longer renewing contracts for subsidised night bus services.

“However, we continue to actively engage with bus operators to encourage them to consider running the bus journeys and services that show the greatest commercial potential.”

To contact TfGM about the scrapping of the 39 route, ring 0161 244 1000 or email customer.relations@tfgm.com