Axe to night bus service ‘will hit economy hard’

Clubbers can continue to enjoy King Street's nightlife
Clubbers can continue to enjoy King Street's nightlife

WIGAN’S weekend late bus services are to axed amid claims the move will hit the town’s night-time economy.

A raft of routes set up specifically to ferry revellers home will stop operating at the end of the month.

Transport bosses say falling passenger numbers are to blame for the cut in services.

However, Tony Callaghan, whose Inn the Bar chain owns two pubs in Wallgate and has Independence on King Street West and bars all over the region, described the news as “another nail in the coffin” of Wigan’s night-time economy.

He said: “It would have been nice to have been consulted about this but as one of the biggest operators in Wigan’s night time scene, I can say for certain that nobody has bothered asking my opinion.

“I know that the night-time buses are a big success in the cities and as far I know are a success in Wigan.

“If people know that the only alternative to getting home after a night out is a taxi many are going to say that would be too expensive and they just aren’t going to bother.

“I remember trying to convene a meeting between Wigan’s night economy business, from bars to kebab shops and taxi operators to the police and ambulance services, to discuss a way forward.

“But I couldn’t get people to come together to discuss things sensibly together for the common good.

“Maybe this long overdue meeting should now take place because something is going to have to be done.”

A spokesman for operators Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) said that its own surveys earlier this year showed poor support for the early hours service, which meant that it was difficult to justify continuing financial support.

Howard Hartley, head of buses at TfGM, said: “We’ve seen a steady fall in passengers on all the nightbus services – beginning with the change in licensing laws which made it much easier to get a taxi home throughout the night.

“TfGM has a limited budget to pay for services that will benefit the local community, which is under increasing pressure.”

However, one bus driver, who asked not to be named, claimed the service still pulled in regular numbers.

“I have worked this turn and as far as I am concerned it is doing just as well used as when it started,” he said.

“From what I hear the financial goal posts have been moved by the Government which means that the buses have to get more passengers now to qualify for the operating subsidy.”

The night bus services set to be axed from June 25, which run from midnight until around 3.30am, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, are the No 598 (Wigan - Leigh); No 600 (Wigan - Ashton - Golborne- Platt Bridge- Wigan); No 632 (Wigan - Hawkley Hall - Wigan); No 635 (Wigan – Shevington – Standish – Wigan); No 695 (Wigan - Platt Bridge - Wigan).