Public Transport campaigners in Epping Forest have said that they are dismayed by news that the 505 bus route is to stop in January, just days after learning that the campaign to save the 167 route’s Loughton to Debden stretch has been unsuccessful.
Dave Plummer, from the Epping Forest Transport Action Group (EFTAG), said,
‘As far as we can tell Essex County Council have decided not to subsidise a replacement for the current 505 service, which will end on 3rd January, although they say that they are still in discussions.’
‘It’s ridiculous that the only direct bus route from Chingford to Waltham Abbey, and on to Harlow, could be allowed to disappear now, just when Harlow and Epping Forest’s local plans propose thousands of new homes and jobs. Those homes and jobs are a long way off but, in the short term, how does Essex County Council propose that people get to work, education, health services and social events? Do they think everybody drives or is physically capable of cycling our already dangerous roads? I can assure them that not everybody can.’
‘I’ve been told by local employment organisations that their clients already have difficulty getting from Chingford to Waltham Abbey and Harlow. The closure of the 505 will exacerbate the problem, affecting small businesses and the local economy.’
‘Underuse is the main reason given for ending the 505 service but it’s currently infrequent and unreliable. An hourly, reliable service could help increase its use and make it viable again. EFTAG have offered to help Essex County Council and the bus company to find ways to promote the bus use of the 505 but they’ve yet to take us up on the offer.’
505 bus user Jackie Benson, from Chingford, said,
‘My husband and I are current users of Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and there are many times we cannot drive to and from for appointments and rely heavily on the current 505 route. This has proved problematic as the bus times are two hourly and many a time, we have had missed appointments or been left standing in the cold in a godforsaken part of Harlow, waiting for a 505 to come along.’
EFTAG urge all current and potential 505 users to contact Cllr Eddie Johnson, Essex County Council’s Public Transport portfolio holder, and their local County Councillor to let them know how important the service is.
Cllr Johnson’s email address is cllr.Eddie.Johnson@essex.gov.uk
You can find and contact your County Councillor via writetothem.com
Notes for editors
- The 505 bus service was cut to six buses a day in May 2015. A petition to restore it to previous service levels received over 600 signatures
- Eos London, who run the hourly 86 Waltham Cross to Harlow service, offered to extend to service to Chingford if Essex County Council granted them a small subsidy