RESIDENTS have been left stranded after bus services were suspended after roadworks closed a major Hampshire road.
Operators suspended services running along Main Road in Colden Common after water works shut the route near Fisher’s Pond for up to ten weeks.
The move means many people, including the elderly and parents with young children, will be forced to walk over half a mile to catch a two-hourly service at New Road.
Some claim that the county council has been unwilling to assist bus operators to put on an emergency service in time for the start of the road closures which began on Monday (January 6).
Parish chairman and Winchester City ward councillor, Cllr Richard Izard, said: “It’s not very good at all to leave it to the last minute to sort this out. We’ve got elderly people who won’t have any access to a bus service into Winchester. We’ve been trying to get a community bus together but it’s really quite late in the day.
“I thought we were in the process of negotiating but everyone has gone quiet and the decision seems to have been made.”
Jackie Shaw, 73, a retiree also of Glen Mobile Home Park, said: “We are all isolated and people like Alma can’t walk very far. How the hell are we going to do our shopping? Ok, so we have a Co-op or we could do our shopping online but that’s not the point. The county council and the water board have known about this since September but we’re still all going to be without a bus.
“Why is this happening? It’s going to affect so many people and for them to say we cannot subsidise the service is just not on.
“I can’t understand that they didn’t work on that site before Christmas. Why couldn’t they have started work a little bit earlier to make the length of time a little shorter?”
Alma Suckling, 85, a retiree also of Glen Park, said: “I need to go to the doctor once a week, sometimes more, and I have lunch at the Community Centre.”
“I use the bus to get to Eastleigh to go shopping about once a week. But now I’m isolated.”
Stagecoach and Brijan have redirected their services via Highbridge Road. The two-hourly service run by Bluestar will still operate from New Road. However Stagecoach confirmed the school buses PS8 and PS9 will be available to the public.
Stagecoach marketing officer, Steve Thorpe, said: “Unfortunately we are unable to run via Allbrook Hill due to the low bridge under the rail line as double deckers are used on the majority of 69 journeys.”
But the council claims it has tried to work with both the water board and the bus operators to overcome the problems.
Cllr Seán Woodward said: “It is for the bus companies to determine what services to run during a road closure and they will take into account the commercial viability of providing that service.
“Hampshire County Council facilitated two meetings between Southern Water and the bus companies Brijan and Stagecoach at which the costs of providing shuttle bus services to mitigate the diversions caused by the road closure were identified and discussed, together with the impact on school contract buses.
“Unfortunately Southern Water and the bus companies have subsequently been unable to reach agreement on the funding of these shuttle services.”