Don't let our rural communities rot! Stop the changes to the First X1 EXCEL bus service.
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From the 4th of February 2018, First is planning to reduce the X1 bus service from a half-hourly schedule to an hourly schedule for rural communities.
The affected villages are Hockering, Terrington St John, Walpole Highway, Walton Highway, and Thorney. First published this announcement on the 10th of January, giving less than a month's notice to commuters of the impending changes. The announcement of the changes can be found here.
If you look closely on their announcement, you may notice that First claim the changes will introduce time savings for the route, and hence allow it to arrive on time. You may have also noticed that First have added in new stops to urban areas. This appears to be reducing the service in rural areas to favour those living in urban areas.
At the time of writing (2018-01-29), First have also failed to mention that Walton Highway is being affected by the changes on their announcement. It was only after people spent up to four days attempting to get an answer from First did they finally acknowledge that Walton Highway (the Highwayman stop) was also being cut to an hourly service.
We believe that these changes need to be stopped.
We have lived in Thorney our entire lives and it is a place that we are proud to call home. Being a village, however, means that it doesn't have all of the amenities that either of us require, making transport links into Peterborough vitally important.
In the past two years, the bus service has become even more critical for one of us, having started a job in Cambridge in 2016. For my job, the First X1 service is my daily and only method for getting to Peterborough train station, then connect onto Cambridge. As it is currently a half-hourly service starting at 06:30, this provides me with the appropriate connections to get to work.
For the other, the bus service has been a vital part of getting to sixth form. I rely on getting the 7:30 bus in order to get to school on time and, for a school student, I get up very early as it is. Any earlier, and I believe that this will affect my ability to learn and sit exams that have a profound impact on the rest of my life.
And we're not the only two people who get the bus - Thorney is a diverse village. Elderly people like our grandad use the X1 service to access facilities and shops in both Wisbech and Peterborough and so is a key social connector along the A47 corridor. For many elderly people in Thorney who do not drive, the bus is their only means for accessing services which are no longer provided in the village, such as the post office and banking facilities. We're sure that the other communities affected are in a similar situation too.
- Emily Shipton and Harry Shipton
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