PLANS to cut Torfaen bus services has raised major concern among residents and councillors alike amid fears that many people – and particularly the elderly – may be left “isolated”.
Earlier this month, Stagecoach Bus said it would have to cut the size of its fleet in Wales by 10 per cent, while discontinuing or reducing the frequency of a number of services, due to ‘drastic’ cuts in investment by the Welsh Government.
Route 30 Brynmawr to Cwmbran will be withdrawn, it was announced, while Route 23 Newport to Varteg Hill will reduce to hourly runs, instead of 30 minutes as at present.
Blaenavon resident Christine Lee said she could have cried when she heard the news.
“I don’t drive, so the number 30 has been my lifeline,” said the 66-year-old.
“I have tried so hard to be independent since my husband’s death but I won’t be able to go to the doctors or do my shopping now. I will be cut off.”
Chairman of Pontypool Community Council and Abersychan ward councillor Giles Davies has written to Lynne Neagle AM to call a meeting over “unrest”.
In a letter to his fellow ward councillors he said: “The village will be cut off all together, this I hope you agree is unacceptable as you can't isolate a whole village.”
An imminent meeting is expected to be held with Older Persons’ Champion cllr Lewis Jones.
Fellow Abersychan cllrs Wayne Tomlinson and Gwyneira Clarke also registered their worries, particularly over Pentwyn Village.
“The withdrawal of the service will certainly cause severe hardship to all of the people who live there. Many families with young children rely on the bus to get the children to school as there is no safe walking route to school and even if there were it is too far to walk, and certainly too dangerous.”
Blaenavon councillors said they would look to engage with Paul Murphy MP, at a town council meeting last week.
Councillors said they were “angry and disappointed”, and encouraged petitions from residents.
Cllr Pauline Whitcombe said: “We need to put a strong case forward in opposition to this.”
Talks are said to be ongoing between Torfaen council and Stagecoach to mitigate the affect of the cuts.