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Wirral: Residents urge Arriva to scrap plans to axe 418 bus route

ByReport2

Nov 8, 2023

WIRRAL residents, councillors and MPs are urging bus company Arriva to re-think their proposals to axe a "vital" bus route that is a "lifeline" for many communities in the borough.

Last week (November 3) the Globe reported that Arriva was proposing to withdraw the 418 bus route due to a "decline in passenger numbers".

MP for Birkenhead Mick Whitley wrote a letter to Arriva confirming his "vehement objection" to the proposal.

Mr Whitley explained that the route "provides a vital service to communities in the north of Birkenhead including the only direct route to Arrowe Park".

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He continued to say that the service is a "lifeline" for Beechwood, North Birkenhead and Prenton communities and has "objected" to the proposal.

'The 418 is a really important bus route'

Residents have been left shocked by the news, with some saying it is "inconsiderate" and will "break communities".

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Kirsty Hinchchliffe, from Bidston, is a Clinical Support Worker at Arrowe Park Hospital.

She told the Globe that she "really needs Arriva to not to withdraw this bus route not only for my needs of getting to work but for others getting to visit their loved ones in hospital."

The 43-year-old continued: "The 418 is a really important bus route, especially for the hospital.

"The only thing I will say is that it comes every hour at five to the hour, so 8.55, 9.55 and so on.

"Our night shifts don’t finish until 15 minutes past the hour so we do have to wait 40 minutes to get the bus.

"Maybe if they changed the times to suit us workers it would be a lot busier."

Jane Carter, from Bromborough, works in a school on the Beechwood estate.

The 57-year-old gets the 418 bus to and from New Ferry every day in order to get to work.

Speaking to the Globe, she said: "I need the 418 to get to and from work. It’s bad enough that they stopped the route into Bromborough.

"It will be a total pain not only for me but for lots more people needing to get to places such as Arrowe Park Hospital.

"It will break communities up as it’s a lifeline for people in Birkenhead, Prenton, and other locations.

"I really don’t know how I will get to work if they withdraw it."

28-year-old Elise Hughes from New Ferry has a similar opinion.

She told the Globe: "I have to get the 7.31am bus from New Ferry to get to work on time; then then 2.08pm bus back to New Ferry to collect my son in time from school.

"To lose that bus would mean I'd have to get a longer bus all around Birkenhead and walk from Prenton main shops which means I would have to try to change my work hours or work more days to work my contracted hours but also manage school times.

"If my work is unable to be flexible or change my hours I would either have to pay around £10 a day for after school club or I would be unable to continue my job."

She described the proposals as "inconsiderate" explaining that "they want more people to use public transport instead of driving but are making places inaccessible instead of encouraging use and making it easier."

Wirral's Green Party Councillors have also written a letter to Arriva objecting to the axing of the 418 bus route.

Green councillor for Bromborough, Port Sunlight & New Ferry and Co-leader of Wirral Green Group of Councillors, Jo Bird, said: "Wirral’s Green Councillors object to cuts to the vital 418 and 420 buses.

"Our communities need more buses not less to get to work, studies, Arrowe Park hospital, shops, family and friends.

"Scrapping the 418 will mean there is no bus serving Prenton Hall Road, creating a huge gap in public transport coverage.

"The 418 is the only bus directly connects residents at the lower end of New Ferry to Arrowe Park Hospital. Changing buses can double the journey time.

"We have written to Arriva bus company, urging them to continue these bus services and drop their proposal to scrap them."

What did Arriva say?

In a statement to the Globe last week, a spokesperson for Arriva said: "We continuously review all our routes to make sure that we provide customers with the best service that we can, while also ensuring we are able to continue operating a stable bus network over the longer term.

"As part of our continuous review process, we have reviewed the passenger numbers on the 420 service and similar routes along its corridor. This service has continuously struggled to carry enough passengers to cover its basic operating costs.

"Following a gradual decline in passenger numbers through the pandemic, diminishing levels of funding, together with increases in inflationary costs, we are now in a position where we need to look at making changes to ensure that our bus network efficiently meets new travel patterns and demand and ultimately is sustainable.

"After consultation with local authorities, unfortunately, we are proposing to withdraw the service and will be people’s seeking views on the following online feedback form Wirral Services 418 and 420 consultations."

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