9:15am Monday 9th April 2012
PASSENGERS who used a bus service between Ledbury and Cheltenham were left in the lurch when it ran for the last time.
The withdrawal of the 652 service left passengers from the Ledbury area, Redmarley and Staunton without a transport lifeline, having only been given a week’s notice.
Regular user Barbara Druce, of Much Marcle, said: “It provided a good link between the towns and villages.
"It was the swiftness of the withdrawal of the 652 that shocked people, not only for the passengers but for the bus company and their driver."
She said that passengers presented the driver John Payne with a gift and card on the last day the service ran.
"Over the years on the 652, I have seen a number of people along the route for medical reasons, after a hip replacement, for example," said Mrs Druce.
"Now, unfortunately, this will no longer be possible."
She said other users included walkers on the Malvern Hills and even racegoers staying in Ledbury hotels and guesthouses during Cheltenham Gold Cup week.
The service was funded by Gloucester County Council and operated by George Young Coaches. Kevin Young, of the coach company, said the decision was made by the council.
Alan Barrett, the council’s urban transport manager, said a major review of subsidised services was carried out last summer and all changes were widely consulted on.
He said: “These changes delivered the savings we had to make from our transport budget while maintaining services that enabled people to get to work, school, health services and shopping.
“The final stages of implementing these changes are taking place between now and the early summer.
"This route was reviewed as it has very low levels of use – surveys show only one passenger who travels frequently."
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