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Guest column: Buses are still vital for our communities

One of the number 98 buses leaves Gainsborough bus station
One of the number 98 buses leaves Gainsborough bus station

Last week, numbers published by the Government showing a decline in bus use, resulted in gloomy predictions for the future of buses.

The very nature of buses is that they are a local operation and therefore generalisations like those expressed in the national media do not apply everywhere.

With the help of a Government grant, the Gainsborough town bus services and route 100 to Lincoln and Scunthorpe were introduced with new single deck buses in April 2006.

In 2009, new double deck buses entered service on route 100 because the number of passengers using the service had increased by 25 per cent.

Recently, route 100 has received new buses .

These are superior, not only compared with older buses but with the Pacer trains that serve Gainsborough.

Similar new single deck buses have entered service on the Humber Fast Cat between Scunthorpe and Hull and on city services in Lincoln, where last month a brand new bus station opened.

West Lindsey Council has recently invested in a new Call Connect bus serving villages between Gainsbough and Lincoln that are not served by Stagecoach buses.

These improvements are hardly the sign of the decline of buses.

However, last year, the frequency of buses on the uphill part of the town was reduced from 15 to 30 minutes.

The 2006 subsidy had long run out and the services are now wholly commercial with frequency dependant on how many passengers use the bus.

In Gainsborough taxi fares were much lower than elsewhere, but these have now been increased.

There are many people entitled to a free bus pass who have not applied for one.

At present those aged 65 or over and those with certain disabilities can apply to Lincolnshire County Council for a free bus pass, visit https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/32818.article

Having a bus pass in your wallet or bag will most likely tempt you on to the bus.

Long ago, the Lincolnshire Road Car buses offered inter-available tickets so passengers could return by train.

Today, this exists on route 98 where you can buy a return bus ticket and come back on East Midland Trains’ direct service from Doncaster.

The first bus leaves Gainsborough at 5.55am, allowing passengers to catch one of many trains leaving Doncaster around 7am.

The last train back to Gainsborough from Doncaster is at 8.33pm and all for £6.20