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Thornhill residents' anger as bus route change leaves them 'isolated'
A group of Southampton residents are demanding the return of their bus route.
Thornhill residents are angry at the changes made by First Hampshire to its number 13 route earlier this year.
It used to begin and end in Thornhill but as of January the starting point changed to Harefield and began operating via Merryoak rather than Peartree Avenue.
The changes mean some residents are unable to get public transport to Ladies Walk doctors’ surgery, shops, the post office and schools.
Wheelchair user Diane Edworthy, of Hinkler Road, said: “I have to ask family or friends to drive me to the doctors because I cannot manage the hill. It takes an extra hour of your time to get anywhere now if you use the other buses and if I get a taxi I have to pay more for a disabled taxi because of my wheelchair.
“Before I could get on the no 13 and go to Bitterne and everything was fine but now I can barely get there and back before I run out of battery.”
Mrs Edworthy, 49, also runs a local support group Together Reducing Isolation Project in Thornhill.
She added: “The bus problem is having the opposite effect to what the group was set up for. We try to get people back in the community but by taking away the buses they are increasing isolation.”
Connie Hammett, 81, also of Hinkler Road, said: “I used the bus to go to the doctors’ surgery and to go to my retirement club and I used to rely on it. I cannot walk up to it because it is hill all the way. We are quite angry about this because it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Rev Duncan Jennings, of St Christopher’s Church, Thornhill, added: “The impact on a whole range of the local population is very great. It’s one thing for people with bus passes to have to use three buses to get around but if you are a mum you will have to pay quite a lot more and it takes it out on your finances.”
Chrissie Bainbridge, general manager at First Hampshire, said: “Service changes are made to reflect current travel patterns and usage by customers. We apologise for any inconvenience to customers but unfortunately, it is not always possible to provide direct services everywhere. “We continue to review our services as a matter of routine and where sufficient demand is anticipated we will respond to it."
But good news may be around the corner as the city council are exploring subsidising a ‘hopper bus’ for Thornhill to take elderly residents and youngsters around the estate.
Speaking at a Thornhill community meeting earlier this month, Cllr Simon Letts said: “It will be a service either four, six or eight times a day. We have put out a tender and are looking for a good price to come in. As soon as we get more information I will let the community know.”
The proposed route would go in a circuit around Thornhill, starting and ending in Warburton Road and visiting the estate as well as Bitterne precinct.
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