Preston Bus has confirmed that its 280 service, which winds its way from Preston to Clitheroe and onto Skipton,will be withdrawn on Saturday, June 15.Preston Bus has de-registered commercial operation of Service 280 from Monday 17th June. The service is likely to finish after its last timetabled journey on Saturday 15th June 2019.
The bus operator took over the rural route in March 2016 after French firm TransDev opted not to renew its contract.
The route currently serves rural communities including Mellor Brook, Copster Green, Billington and Whalley en route to Skipton.
Ribble Valley Borough Councillor, Ged Mirfin, who represents Whalley, states, “This has severe implications for the Ribble Valley severing the only public transport artery to Skipton and therefore causing huge problems for Students who attend schools over the border in Skipton (in particular Skipton Academy And Ermysted Grammar, workers particularly those who work for Skipton Building Society at their HQ, Pensioners who visit the Market in Skipton and Visitors who enjoy a day out in the Ribble Valley. A good example of this is the well known local character eponymous “Preston John” a retired and widowed pensioner who enjoys the convivial atmosphere and community spirit in Whalley and comes to drink in the Dog Inn public house in Whalley on a number of days each week using his bus pass on the 280 to travel to and from his home on the outskirts of Preston.”
Ged continues, “I very much hope that this turns out to be a non-story as I am led to believe that something is being done behind the scenes: enhanced/increased subsidy; alternative operator (it used to be TransDev); or a temporary service provider.”
Ged concludes ”I have spoken to all our Local County Councillors this morning in whose division the 280 Bus route passes through: County Councillors Ian Brown, Albert Atkinson And Alan Schofield and all have made representations to the Post Holder for Transport and Highways, the Deputy Leader of the County Council, County Councillor Keith Iddon pointing out what a critically important service it is for Ribble Valley Residents.”
Fellow Ribble Valley Borough Councillor in Whalley, Mark Hindle points out, “This is an important link for the people of Whalley who use public transport to visit Skipton. This will particularly affect older people in whalley and further contribute to a growing problem of rural isolation I know a couple of pensioners who use the service to travel to Skipton on a regular basis to meet their families. This is going to effect them dreadfully. RVBC is particularly concerned about rural isolation and we have seen banks and other vital services for local people close. Ged Mirfin and I strongly encourage Lancashire County to find enhanced funding which will prove attractive to an alternate provider and in the meantime do all they can to facilitate the search for a new provider to ensure the continuation of this vital local service..We will vigorously lobby against the discontinuation of this vital service and urge that common sense prevails and does not to discriminate against people in Whalley and Billington which the 280 Bus Service passes through on its journey to and from Preston.”
Councillor Andrew Snowden, the Lead Member for Transport and Highways states, "we are on with looking at possible solutions. We are already working with other bus operators. A briefing has been sent out to county Councillors in Ribble Valley on the bus service," which was later confirmed by County Councillor Keith Iddon who announced that County are moving swiftly to come up with a feasible solution.
Lancashire County Council have issued a tender, inviting bids from local bus operators to ascertain the potential cost to replace the withdrawn commercial service.
Whalley resident and recent Conservative Candidate in Barrow where the Bus passes through Simon Kerins states: “I am shocked to learn that the 280 bus service is being discontinued. It has been a great public resource, connecting Preston and Skipton via the Ribble Valley at very reasonable prices.”
Simon continues, “I often take the bus to both Preston and Skipton, for social as well as work purposes. The route is especially popular with older people in the Ribble Valley; they look forward to a day out - especially in Skipton - and this will be a body blow for them.”