MORE unhappy residents have come forward to express their frustration after changes were made to a bus service in Lechlade.

The bus service 77, which used to operate every two hours to Swindon, now operates only twice a day.

The change came into effect on Monday, August 8, and the short notice left residents waiting for a bus which never materialised.

The bus was operated by APL Travel but has now been taken over by Stagecoach West.

The route and frequency of the service was decided by Gloucestershire County Council.

The new service was originally planned to take effect in September but was pushed forward as APL Travel refused to continue the service when advised they had not won the tender.

Jennifer Whitehorn (pictured above), 71, of Lechlade Court, said that the reduced bus service meant that she was now unable to go to Swindon to see her family.

Mrs Whitehorn moved to the Lechlade area 11 years ago with her husband who could drive, but he died last year in March from illness.

She was left waiting for the number 77 bus on Friday, August 12 from about 11.17am.

She said: “I waited and waited. I can’t get anywhere. I can’t get in to see my family. I used to meet up with two sister-in-laws and a brother-in-law for lunch every Wednesday.

“This is the first Wednesday I haven’t been able to go anywhere. It gets lonely. My sister-in-law lives on her own in Faringdon too.

“We’re all older people and it means that if we can’t get the bus, we have to try to walk down to Lechlade. We’ve now all got bus passes which are of no use.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Pauline Carter (above), 60, lives alone in Johnpane Close in Fairford, and relied on the 77 bus to get to her workplace in Cirencester.

Ms Carter, who is a nurse at a doctor’s surgery, said that the new bus times meant that it was more difficult for her to get home from work.

The last bus, which was at 5.45pm, is now at 5.15pm.

She said: “We had very little warning and it isn’t easy because I have to run a service.

“It is usually possible for me to stay at my partner’s place in Cirencester. But it is not always convenient.

“It means I have to cut my hours or alter my hours. I have told my work, and fortunately, they are quite flexible.”

Lechlade resident Michael Mackay said that the timetable changes was “nothing but a cost-cutting exercise” showing how GCC did not understand the needs of Lechlade bus users.

He said: “It's quite simple - we need a frequent and reliable service to Swindon to work, study, shop, catch the train, visit the hospital, etc.

“We had this thanks to routes 64 and 74, both of which have disappeared in the last month or so.

“I have used the bus to Swindon since I moved to Lechlade in 1987 - for 20 of these years I commuted to work in Swindon and I can inform the county council that Lechlade residents used these services to get to work and college, to shop, attend hospital and catch the train.

“Lechlade residents need a bus service to Swindon far more than they need one to Cirencester and the timetable for the amalgamated 77 route is incomprehensible and rubbish.”

A spokesperson for Stagecoach West said earlier this month: “It's unfortunate and highly unusual that a service change be made so abruptly.

“However, under the circumstances, Stagecoach West had to step up to the plate far sooner than anticipated.”

Alan Bently, integrated transport manager at Gloucestershire County Council, said with regards to the decision to change the frequency of the 77 service: “The new service 50 and redesigned service 77 incorporates the services 861, 865, 74 and 78, which were not well used and costing £185,000 a year.

“This way, people who did use these routes still have transport available and local taxpayers money is being used more efficiently.”