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New shuttle service between New Ash Green and Bluewater to replace axed 423 bus

A village which lost a vital bus service is looking forward to new transport links thanks to the introduction of a new shuttle service.

The service has been created to run from New Ash Green, through Hartley and on to Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford as well as Bluewater in Greenhithe after the 423 bus service was axed in October.

Councillor for Sevenoaks Rural North East David Brazier
Councillor for Sevenoaks Rural North East David Brazier

It will run up to six round trips a day and link the village to the Fast Track bus services running from the shopping centre to wider parts of the community.

But, the service is only being introduced for a year long trial period to gauge how popular it would be.

KCC councillor for Sevenoaks rural North East David Brazier said: “After a period of isolation from public transport, from February next year New Ash Green and Hartley will have a connection to Darent Valley Hospital, Bluewater and the wider community. It is desperately needed.”

And he is encouraging residents to make use of the new service.

He said: “It will be on a year trial and its continuation will depend on the use made of it – so use it or lose it.”

Councillor Laura Manston
Councillor Laura Manston

The service, which will have a £2 flat fare, will come as a welcome relief for residents of both villages after one service was cut at the beginning of October.

Hartley resident Trisha Rose, whose teenage daughter works at Bluewater, is excited to hear about the new service.

“I can’t wait for the introduction of the new shuttle buses as where we live we are cut off and isolated from many towns.”

She added: “I’ve got elderly neighbours who rely on public transport to get to the hospital and my daughter works at Bluewater and has to rely on lifts to work so she has no independence.

“Teenagers in the area also can’t meet their friends to socialise so it’ll be a welcome introduction, and I can’t wait for the timetable to be released.”

Resident Trisha Rose is looking forward to the new service
Resident Trisha Rose is looking forward to the new service

Speaking at the time of the cuts, Green councillor Laura Manston, who has lived in the village for 12 years, was worried about the impact they would could have on the elderly.

She said: "I think that bus cuts always disproportionally affect vulnerable people and there is a significant elderly population in New Ash Green who are now going to be unable to get to the hospital.

"I've spoken to people who, even those who can drive and have a car, the cost of fuel means that they prefer to get the bus because they're worried about the financial side of it.

"It's the people who do not have the luxury of options that its going to affect the most. I'm fortunate to have a car and I can get where I need to go, so it's mostly the elderly people and those who are financially struggling more."

Confirming the cuts, an Arriva spokesman said it was due to a “continual decline in passengers numbers” on the route after Covid-19.

Arriva axed the 423 service in New Ash Green in October. Photo credit: Stock photo
Arriva axed the 423 service in New Ash Green in October. Photo credit: Stock photo

Cllr Manston welcomed the new plans and said it will come as “a great relief to local people”.

However, she said she was worried about the “use it or lose it” motto.

“I'm concerned about the lack of consultation,” she explained.

“Providing a schedule that has been decided by a few councillors in a closed room and then telling people they have 12 months to ‘use it or lose it’ seems unfair as the service may not run on the days and times that people need it to.”

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