- Hourly bus service to provide direct route between north and south Lakes from Tuesday (16 February)
- Temporary link to cut existing journey time by almost 2 hours
- Reduced fares in place for customers using new route
Bus operator Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire is to provide a crucial link between Grasmere and Keswick while repair work continues on the flood-damaged A591.
The new service - using a temporary road created by Cumbria County Council - will deliver a direct link between the north and south Lakes for the first time since the area was badly affected by flooding late last year.
From Tuesday (9 February) a Stagecoach shuttle service between Grasmere and Keswick will operate on an hourly basis from 7am until 7pm, with buses leaving Keswick at 5 minutes past the hour and leaving Grasmere at 10 minutes to the hour, six days a week, and a two hourly service on a Sunday between 10am and 5pm.
The service, which is being delivered on a commercial basis by Stagecoach, will offer a journey time of 45 minutes, cutting the existing journey time between the two locations by almost two hours.
Users of the service will also benefit from significantly reduced ticket prices with Dayrider passes covering the two locations priced at £5 (previous equivalent of £10.80) and weekly Megarider tickets priced at £20 (previously £27.30).
Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire Managing Director Matthew Cranwell said: "It has been a challenging time for regular users of the A591. We have worked in partnership with Cumbria County Council and are pleased to be able to step in to deliver this hourly shuttle service using the temporary road - it will open up a vital direct link between the north and south lakes for the first time since December and we believe it will make a big difference for people travelling between Grasmere and Keswick. Customers using the service will benefit from hugely reduced journey times as well as a significant price discount and we would encourage people - even those who may not be regular bus users - to take advantage of this temporary transport option.
"This service also represents our continued support of the local communities affected by the floods - it has been a very difficult few months for many local areas. As well as contributing to the Cumbria Flood Appeal, we are pleased to be playing our part in helping to keep communities connected through our local bus services."
The new route will commence in Grasmere starting from Swan Lane and will travel around Grasmere, along the A591 before using a newly tarmacked forest road at the bottom of Dunmail Raise. The bus will travel along the west road around Thirlmere and over the Thirlmere Dam wall before re-joining the usual Service 555 route into Keswick Bus Station.
During the Cumbria floods, Stagecoach's Carlisle, Kendal and Lancaster depots were all impacted by flooding, and a number of the company's staff were personally affected. The operator worked hard to continue running as many services as possible for local communities and also made a donation to the Cumbria Flood Appeal.