Arriva bus changes in full - council expects negative public response

Published: 26 February 2017

LATEST: Arriva bus changes in full - council expects negative public response

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BUS passengers in Maidstone face major upheaval in a shake-up of routes throughout the borough by Arriva.

Changes which come into effect on April 2 will see a number of cutbacks, with some services withdrawn completely.

However, there will be improvements in some areas, including a new dedicated service every 20 minutes from the town to Maidstone Hospital.

Details of the new timetable, which Arriva says should reduce delays by avoiding routes through the congested town centre, are to be unveiled at a public meeting tomorrow (February 18) at the Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone.

The review coincides with the hiring of PR firm Maxim whose press release, on behalf of Arriva, highlighted “exciting changes to Maidstone services”.

Craig Taylor of Arriva Southern Counties, said the bus firm had wanted “to see how we can further improve the reliability and punctuality of our services.”

He added: “Congestion in the town centre makes it difficult for our buses to keep to the timetable. By splitting routes and ensuring good connections, we will be able to provide a far more reliable service.”

But concern over the “impact of some of the changes proposed and the timing of them,” was raised by KCC bosses, according to an officer’s confidential briefing note to members, who will be going to the polls four weeks later on May 4.

The briefing, obtained by Downs Mail, says: “As a result of our approach, Arriva have made some adjustments to their intended changes and many of the most sensitive have been mitigated. Despite this, there remains a negative impact for some passengers and the changes are likely to result in a negative reaction from the general public.”

Arriva says that key improvements include service 7 between Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells with buses running every 20 minutes and later into the evening, service 12 providing more frequent buses to Headcorn, and two new services, 85 and 86 giving a more reliable service to Maidstone Hospital.

SPECIAL REPORTS AND ANALYSIS IN DOWNS MAIL

According to the confidential KCC briefing document, seen by Daily Downs Mail, these are the services affected by the changes:

THE main changes to Maidstone services are as follows:

5 Maidstone to Hawkhurst Sunday reduced to between Maidstone and Cranbrook. Extra bus from Cranbrook to Cornwallis School withdrawn

6 and 6A Maidstone to Tunbridge Wells curtailed at East Peckham apart from school services which will continue to Maidstone. New Sunday service, two hourly. Service withdrawn from Colts Hill and Five Oak Green. A service 6X, off-peak, will go to Maidstone Town Centre (MTC)

7 Maidstone to Tunbridge Wells increased to every 20 mins Monday to Saturday. New Sunday service and extra evening buses until 23.00

8 Downswood to Maidstone withdrawn and replaced with new service 4 which will not be as frequent as service 8. Fant section will operate every hour in off-peak only, Monday to Saturday. Service 4 will operate between Downswood and MTC without direct connection to the hospital

12 Maidstone to Tenterden Increased to every 30 minutes to Headcorn in off-peak, Monday to Friday. Withdrawn from Langley village. Extra services on Saturday to Headcorn and Sunday increased to hourly to Headcorn

77 and 147, 148 and 577,578 and 579 Kings Hill to Tunbridge Wells and associated school services withdrawal of service 77, some areas provided with alternative

82 Park Wood to Maidstone reduced to every 10 minutes

84 becomes 4 Maidstone to Senacre; new service replacing existing services 8 and 84

85 Maidstone Hospital to MTC to Shepway and Senacre route split at town centre

86 Maidstone to Maidstone Hospital via Fant withdrawn

3 MTC to Maidstone Hospital new route between hospital and MTC every 20 minutes giving Tonbridge Road a 10 minute link

19 Maidstone to Grove Green and Bearsted major route change, starting from Bearsted, will serve Madginford, New Cut Road, Grovewood Drive, Provender Way, Tesco, then Grovewood Drive, New Cut Road, Bearsted Road, Hampton Road and Snowdon Avenue, run every 30 mins

58 and 81 Maidstone to West Malling and Ryarsh more time included for Hermitage Lane.

70 Borough Green to Lunsford Park last journey (16.55) withdrawn

71 Maidstone to Snodland and Holborough reduced from every 7-8 minutes to every 10 minutes on London Road corridor. Lunsford Park reduced to four buses per hour. 71s will not operate direct to schools. Lunsford Lane not served

72 Maidstone to Kings Hill withdrawn from West Malling station, but extended to serve Airfield estate

89 Maidstone to Coxheath removed from Gallants Lane. School services will not cross town. Sunday service doubled to half hourly

155 Maidstone to Chatham minor peak-time changes, evening service withdrawn

l No changes are proposed to routes 79, 17, 59, 60 and 64.

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