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04 Apr 2022
Ashford Borough Council and Stagecoach South East have announced a 12-month reprieve for the G Service bus route which was due to be withdrawn in April.
The “second chance” for the loss-making route has been secured after the personal intervention of Council Leader, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, who approached senior managers at Stagecoach to explore the potential to maintain the service.
Following a series of high-level talks, the authority has pledged financial support to enable the service to continue operating for another year from 19 April, albeit at a reduced frequency of one bus an hour, compared to the current 30 minute frequency.
The G Service links two sides of Ashford – Godinton Park and Repton Park with the Orbital Park via Bank Street in the town centre, the railway station, Newtown and South Willesborough.
Since the announcement that the route was to close, residents have voiced their concerns about the loss of what some described as “a vital bus route”, enabling people who rely on public transport to access the town centre and railway station from both Godinton Park and South Willesborough/Orbital Park.
Cllr Clarkson said: “A successful local public transport network is essential to the economy of Ashford and is a key component of our goal of becoming a carbon neutral borough by 2030. The loss of any bus service is always a concern but I was particularly worried about the impact that the withdrawal of the G route would have on the accessibility of the town centre for residents.
“I made a personal request to Stagecoach to reconsider their decision and we looked at several ideas to prevent this route from disappearing altogether. I am pleased that we have reached agreement to preserve this service and I’d like to thank the operator for adopting such a positive approach to our discussions.
“Together, the Council and Stagecoach will do everything we can to promote the G-Route but one thing is clear – if people don’t use it then they will lose it. I would urge people to support this route. It’s only by attracting more passengers and generating more revenues that this 12 month reprieve can be turned into something longer lasting, for the benefit of the community.”
Paying tribute to Cllr Clarkson for taking the lead in saving the G-route, Matthew Arnold, Commercial Director for Stagecoach South East, said: “We welcome this 12 month commitment from Ashford Borough Council which will ensure people in Godinton Park, Newtown and South Willesborough continue to benefit from a bus service.
"I want to thank Cllr Clarkson for his energy and determination in supporting this service. It's vital we work closely with local government to secure the breathing space needed for struggling services to recover while people are cautiously returning to use public transport after the pandemic."
"With the right public policies and investment, buses will play a vital long-term role in connecting our communities and boosting the local economy. We're firmly committed to working jointly with local authority partners to maximise the scope of good quality bus connections for the community."
You can view the new route G bus timetable here.