Bury's TfGM rep slams First on bus service withdrawal

Cllr Noel Bayley, Bury's representative on the Transport for Greater Manchester committee, slammed First at a meeting today on the withdrawal of the X35 service and the poor performance of the 472 and 474 services.

Bury North MP James Frith met with Noel and asked him to make the case at the meeting. James also met today with GM Mayor Andy Burnham to discuss bus services in Bury and will be meeting with First shortly.

Cllr Noel Bayley's statement is below:

It would be remiss of me as a representative of Bury's residents to let the withdrawal of a vital bus service - namely the X35 - which operates between the north of our borough and Manchester City Centre pass without comment.

I have received representations from residents and councillors in Bury North as well as the MP, James Frith. I understand that Mr Frith has also shared the concerns of residents with First Bus and will be meeting them soon.

Last year this service was consolidated from eight services a day to four and is now being withdrawn altogether, with the suggestion that residents utilise a combination of services 472, 474, 135 and the Metrolink service instead.

While I am sure the advice was well intended, unfortunately it fails to recognise the two key factors that many residents have voiced their concerns over: time and money.

Getting two buses rather than one is a poor offer to residents who have seen what were already chronic unreliability problems worsen across Bury's bus services since the town's depot was closed in April 2017.

Equally, it misses the point that advising people to use two different modes of transport as an alternative means paying twice. Daily travel on the Metrolink is beyond the means of many young people in work and education as well as those who are on low wages.

It should also be pointed out that in order to provide an express service the X35 ran in part on the motorway yet often utilised vehicles that were somewhat past their best. Even so it is regrettable that First did little to publicise this service - both issues, in my opinion, contributed to the withdrawal of this service.

Nevertheless, there remains a strong depth of feeling for what is a valuable and unique service between Bury North and the City Centre and if passengers are expected to utilise existing services, I would urge First to look at providing a fast service between Bury and Manchester City Centre and address the reliability issues of the 472, 474 and 135 services and others across Bury.

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