Published: 11:23, 01 April 2019
| Updated: 11:31, 01 April 2019
Official changes to Thanet’s bus routes have been revealed by Stagecoach following a funding cut from Kent County Council.
An overhaul of the district’s routes, which raised a large number of objections, was given the green light by the authority in January, including the loss of services 42/42A, 56 and 39/39A.
During a four-week consultation, which began on November 22, 108 people sent in their views on the planned changes, with 72% against the proposed approach.
Despite this, KCC says the responses show its plan “attracted a high level of support as for a number of location/users the proposals represent an improvement on current service levels”.
Many of the bus routes in Thanet are operated by Stagecoach on a commercial basis without any funding from the council. However, for many years KCC has funded the operation of some services which, while not commercially viable, have been considered important to the community.
The controversial plans were endorsed by KCC’s transport cabinet in a bid to save £360,000. Since then, Stagecoach says it has worked with KCC’s public transport team to make further adjustments to the bus timetables to reflect the feedback raised during the consultation.
Changes are set to come into play from Sunday, April 7. These include route 38 and 38A being replaced by route 33 in east Thanet, and by new route 48 in the west of the district (between Birchington and Ramsgate)
The company has confirmed that the majority of areas served by KCC bus routes 38,39, 42 and 56 will continue to be covered by Stagecoach commercial services.
Stagecoach coach commercial director Matthew Arnold said: “Any loss of public investment in bus services is disappointing but we recognise that KCC needed to make these budget savings. We’ve got a busy network of well established services in Thanet which means we’ve been able to look at the feedback from KCC’s public consultations and make adjustments so that buses can keep flowing to those parts of the community that would otherwise have lost out.”
But Cllr Jenny Matterface - who fought against the proposals - does not believe the new adjustments mitigate the service losses.
She said: “The 38, that was the only remaining subsidised route, has gone and that is news to me.
“It is being replaced in Broadstairs and St Peter’s by the extended 33 that will cover much of the route so that route does enable residents to get to Ramsgate without having to change.
“We do, however, now only have one bus an hour serving Kingsgate and Beacon Road instead of two.
“It is very disappointing that the 56 has been basically decimated to a less frequent service so it is very disappointing that our campaigning so strongly supported didn’t achieve what we had hoped for.
“Craig Mackinlay assured those attending the meeting in July last year that the 56 was going to be ‘safe’. It clearly wasn’t. Both these routes are extensively used by the elderly and disabled who will be seriously disadvantaged by the cuts and changes to the routes and regularity of service.”
Routes that will be adjusted from April 7 are 8, 8A, 8X Breeze, 9 and 9X, 11, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38 and 38A, 39, 40, 42 and 42A, 43, 45 and 45A, 48 and 48A, 56 and the Loop service.
From Tuesday, April 23 - after the school Easter holiday - there will also be changes to school time bus routes.
Routes included are 932, 933, 942, 943, 945, 948, and 989.
For a full list of changes and details, go to stagecoachbus.com