Bus route changes to maintain service between Preston and Longridge

Coun Andrew Snowden on a bus
Coun Andrew Snowden on a bus

Lancashire County Council has stepped in to make sure parts of north Preston and some Ribble Valley villages still have access to 'vital' public transport after their current bus service is withdrawn.

The Service 4 from Preston to Longridge via Fulwood and Whittingham has been under threat since the current operator Stagecoach advised that it could no longer provide it on a commercial basis after Sunday November 3.

While alternative routes serve some areas of Fulwood and Broughton, people living on much of the route through Lightfoot Lane, Woodplumpton, Goosnargh and Whittingham would have had no access to any bus service.

There would also have been an impact on NHS staff and patients using the bus to reach the former Whittingham Hospital site Guild Lodge.

The county council has announced that from Monday November 4, it will make changes to some of the routes which it supports in the area, and use extra funding available from housing developers, to maintain a similar level of service for those areas affected.

The current Service 15 from Preston to Fulwood will be extended through to Broughton via Asda, Eastway (where it will serve a new housing development), Royal Preston Hospital, Lightfoot Lane, Wynchor and Woodplumpton. The service will generally operate every hour Monday to Saturday daytime.

Service 35 from Longridge to Blackburn via Ribchester will be withdrawn and incorporated within a new Service 45.

Service 45 will run from Preston to Blackburn via Broughton, Longridge, and Ribchester. It will pass Preston College, also serving Royal Preston Hospital, Broughton, Goosnargh, Whittingham, Longridge, Ribchester, Salesbury and Wilpshire. The service will generally operate every hour Monday to Saturday daytime.

Minor changes will be made to the timetables of a number of buses serving the Ribble Valley to improve connectivity. This will affect Services 3, 5, 25, and 25A. The changes to Service 25 will also restore a link to Mellor Brook with the introduction of the 25A service.

Rotala Preston Bus will operate the new services on behalf of the county council.

County Coun Andrew Snowden, lead member for highways and transport, said: "Our options are often limited when commercial operators pull out, but I'm very pleased that in this instance we’ve been in a position to help.

"Buses are a lifeline to many people and the loss of Service 4 would have left many areas without access to public transport, also having a particular impact on NHS staff and patients at Guild Lodge in Whittingham.

"With some additional funding available to us through the planning process as a result of new housing developments we have been able to extend two existing county council-supported services to cover these areas.

"We recognise the vital role that buses play in helping people access work, do their shopping and visit friends and family, and it is only due to the increased investment we made to improve connections in 2017 that we are in a position to support the network in this way."

County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, added: "Clearly the current route is not commercially viable, but it is a vital service for many people, particularly those visiting Royal Preston Hospital, and I am delighted that the county council has been able to save the service for those areas affected."

New timetable leaflets will be available in the coming days, but for more information about the route, including the revised timetable for the service, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk and search for bus services.