CHANGES TO the 184 bus service in Saddleworth have been condemned by local councillors and residents who fear the cut backs will increase isolation.
A First Bus spokesperson explained: “There will be no significant changes to journeys between Manchester and Huddersfield via Uppermill and Diggle or to journeys that terminate at Uppermill.
“Unfortunately however due to low passenger demand most of the journeys that currently terminate at Diggle and operate via Dobcross will be curtailed at Grotton.
“Diggle will continue to be linked with Manchester, Oldham and Uppermill every hour by the journeys on service 184 that operate to/from Huddersfield. Dobcross will be continue to be served by services 353/4 providing links to Uppermill.
“There will be no significant change to service 180 that will continue operate every 30 minutes. First would like to apologise if these changes cause any inconvenience.”
The changes, which will be in place from Monday, July 25, have left councillors, community champions and residents concerned.
Mark Brooks, chair of Diggle Community Association, said: “This decision will have a serious impact on the community.
“The service into Diggle is a lifeline for many residents, particularly the elderly, who do not have access to car transport and rely on it to visit the shops or keep in touch with friends.
“This is yet another example of putting cost before conscience.”
Pam Rose, chair of Dobcross Village Community’s executive, declared: “It’s ridiculous with no buses coming through the centre of Dobcross other than the 354 and 353.
“Villagers use the bus regularly to go to college, hospital and school. We need links to get to those places as not everyone drives.”
Saddleworth Parish Councillor Paul Fryer commented: “Bus services in Saddleworth are being gradually eroded.
“We need a thorough review with a view to providing a good service between the villages, and linking the area to the surrounding towns. There also needs to be proper connections with the trains at Greenfield.
“The prospective Labour candidates for Greater Manchester Mayor are all committed to developing an integrated transport system with better fare options including an ‘Oyster’ style card.”
Royce Franklin, chair of the Traffic and Transport Sub-Committee for Saddleworth and Lees, said: “Whilst it is very disappointing to learn of the loss of the second bus per hour during the day for Diggle and the direct link to Manchester for Dobcross, it is understandable.
“There is a bill scheduled to go before Parliament which means buses will be run as demanded by local authorities, as they are in London.
“Until then services such as the 184 service for Diggle will continue to be subject to changes which are not in the best interest of the locals.”