The X1 bus service through Thorney is to be cut from a half-hourly service to once an hour from February 4.
Operator Excel says that the service is being cut in order to allow the bus to keep to its timetable at peak periods when the A47 suffers delays due to traffic congestion.
However, at the same time as cutting services to Thorney, the bus company has introduced a number of new stops – one in King’s Lynn and all town stops in Wisbech.
An online petition objecting to the cuts has attracted more than 1,000 signatures so far and regular users of the service have written to the Thorney Post to explain how the changes will affect their lives.
Emily Shipton (24) who lives in Sandpit Road uses the X1 to get to work each day. She takes the 6.30am bus to Peterborough train station and then the train to Cambridge. The 6.30am bus is being cut and the first bus into town will be just after 7am meaning Emily will have to finish work later.
“I will not get back to Peterborough rail station until 6:26pm, so I will miss the 6.14 bus and will have to wait 1 hour 20 minutes for the next bus and won’t get home until after 8pm. Overall, there is a 90-minute wait between the buses at a peak time for commuters to Thorney,” she said.
“My brother uses the 7.30am bus to get to senior school in the centre of Peterborough. He will now have to catch the 7am bus to get to school, which means getting up at 6am each day.
“The X1 is a key social connector along the A47 corridor. For many elderly people who do not drive, this is their only means for accessing services which are no longer provided in the village, such as the post office and bank amongst other things.
“If things continue to deteriorate, people like myself will reluctantly be forced to move out of the village that I have called my home for 24 years. This in turn will cause even further decline to services and amenities. It will just be a vicious circle of degeneration which I do not believe we should have to put up with. From commuters who rely on a fast, convenient and regular service, to the elderly who rely on the bus as their gateway to services; no-one should have to put up with the cuts.”
The new timetable for the X1 (which will be renamed the XL from February) means Thorney getting an hourly service, but the much smaller hamlet of Thorney Toll retaining its bus every half hour.
There is certainly traffic congestion on the A47 into Peterborough at peak times, but the route through Thorney isn’t congested and avoiding the village will save only a couple of minutes. The new XL will just reach the traffic jams in Eye and Peterborough a bit quicker.
The 36 bus service, operated by Stagecoach is unchanged, but its pick-up times in Thorney for Peterborough are only a few minutes later than the XL, so there will be two buses available each hours, but at almost the same time – six minutes past the hour and 13 minutes past.
A statement from Excel said:
“As a result of demand and punctuality analysis, as well as feedback from passengers, drivers and stakeholders, we’re making some important changes to our X1 service from Sunday, February 4.
“These changes have been designed to help our buses keep to time more easily when the traffic is heavy and when we experience major incidents on and around the busy A47 corridor, as well as matching service levels and the times of buses to meet the needs of the majority of passengers.”
You can sign the petition objecting to cuts at: https://www.change.org/p/first-norfolk-suffolk-don-t-let-our-rural-communities-rot-stop-the-changes-to-the-first-x1-excel-bus-service