RESIDENTS and businesses in Blunsdon have reacted with outrage to the news they could be about to lose their bus service.
Thamesdown Transport is currently running a consultation on changes to the town’s bus services and has told the council it are no longer able to run the number 24 route, which runs from Fleming Way to the village, on a commercial basis.
This has left furious locals claiming vulnerable residents will be left isolated, employees will be forced to leave their jobs and that Blunsdon will effectively be cut off from the town.
Claire Dancer, an administrator at Park View Care Home in the village, said: “The bus service is vital for our workers, many of whom need it to get here.
“There is a real possibility that many of them will have to leave. A lot of them don’t drive so the alternative is to get a taxi which can be upwards of £10 a trip and is just not affordable.
“And it is not only the staff, many of the visitors to our residents use the bus. If they can’t get here it will mean some people will not be able to see their families.”
Last year, a half hourly service to the Orbital retail park was replaced with a service to the town centre, despite protests from residents.
The reason given at the time was the Orbital service was also not commercially viable, but residents said this was due to it being every half hour and not hourly.
Now they are facing up to the prospect of being left with nothing.
Diane Telford, a care assistant at Park View, said: “There are at least 15 members of staff who are affected by this, with some of them possibly having to give up because they have no idea how to get in.
“As it stands I have to leave at 6.50am and take two buses to get into work. That will be made worse now.
“I have worked here for 20 years and am determined not to give in but I’m not sure what to do at the minute.”
Another member of staff, Manju Thomas, said: “I live in the village and my children go to Abbey Meads School. We have to take the 24 to Groundwell and then walk across no matter what the weather is. When the 24 stops we will have to walk with two small children now every morning.”
Resident Barbara Coulson, 61, relies on the buses for medical reasons.
She said: “It’s an absolute disaster. So many people rely on the service and this will leave us completely cut off.
“I need to visit the physiotherapist once a fortnight and regularly go to the hospital so I will need my husband or daughter to take me.
“I am lucky in that respect but there are plenty of people who are not.
“No-one wanted the service 24 in the first place so it feels as though the service has been deliberately run down so it is not commercial and can be stopped all together.”
Paul Jenkins, managing director of Thamesdown Transport, said: “Unfortunately, after May 24 we will not be able to continue running Service 24 as a commercial service due to passenger revenue not meeting operational costs.
“We are, however, liaising with Swindon Council regarding the future of this service and hope that a satisfactory solution can be found.”
A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “We are aware of Thamesdown Transport’s decision to stop Service 24 at the end of May.
“We are currently looking at a range of options for maintaining a Blunsdon bus service beyond this date.”