Plymouth MP speaks out against city bus route cuts
A CITY MP has queried whether shareholders have been put before passengers in the bus route cuts by First Group.
Alison Seabeck, MP for Plymouth Moor View, has written to The Herald calling the decision to cut the Mainstone bus route "deeply worrying."
First plan to make changes across its services. Six routes will be chopped while two additional services will be brought in and nine altered. The route serving Mainstone will be wiped out in the changes.
General secretary of the national RMT union Bob Crow called the cuts "savage" yesterday.
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Ms Seabeck has added her voice to the backlash. She said: "First group's decision to cut routes, and particularly to Mainstone, is deeply worrying. The company state that on 'most' routes there will be an alternative public transport option. This is not the case in Mainstone.
"I wrote to the company on September 12, because I'd been picking up rumours on route changes. I was seeking information about usage.
"They need to justify the drastic step they have taken which isolates residents, other than to say it is about 'saving money'. Saving money to increase dividends to share holders?
"If they attempt to pass blame off then it has to be passed to the Government which has decimated local council budgets, and made decisions on which routes to subsidise extremely emotive and difficult. In Cornwall we have seen the very direct effect of Government cuts. In Plymouth, it appears from the statement that the cuts are the company's choice.
"I am very concerned that there are greater implications for some of my constituents, particularly older residents who rely on buses and young people who may, if their families don't have a car, feel trapped in their area."
First Group were unavailable for comment before going to press. However, speaking about the cuts earlier in the week, director of First South West Alex Carter said: "The Mainstone part of the route has been fairly light on usage and we haven't found it justifiable to keep it there.
"I can't offer any real glimmer of hope in terms of an alternative service but we have been operating with Plymouth City Council providing them with data of usage and putting staff on the buses to observe the overall usage."
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