PEOPLE in Romsey have spoken of their frustration and confusion at proposed changes to bus services.

Companies such as Stagecoach and Xelabus say they have been hit hard by the pandemic and will be reducing services. 
This also comes at time when Hampshire County Council has been holding a consultation plans which could see people forced to pay fees for some services, operational changes and cuts to back-office functions.

For many people, especially those who do not have access to other ways of transport, bus services provide a vital link between the city centre and surrounding areas.

Hazel Wheeler-Osman, 74, who travelled from Lloyds Hill into Romsey, said: “If they took my free bus pass away, I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere because I’ve packed up driving.

“I think it would leave a lot of people staying in doors a lot more, because we’re just not able to walk everywhere like we once could.

“If my bus was cancelled, I would have no way of knowing that it was cancelled, I’m a dinosaur with phones!”

Hampshire Chronicle: Hazel Wheeler-Osman, waiting for a bus in Romsey.

Rose Spiteri, 78, and Edna Spiteri, 80, who were waiting for the number 4 bus, said “If people have their bus passes taken away from them, they won’t go out as much because they won’t be able to get to places.

“We’re used to having a bus pass and to have it possibly taken away, without no choice – is just unfair, I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for a bus every day.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Friends, Rose and Edna Spiteri, waiting for the route number four bus in Romsey.

John Karen, 81, and Nicola Karen, 59, who regularly travel by bus.

Karen said: “If other counties across the country aren’t taking away people’s free bus passes, then why would Hampshire County Council?"

John added: “I do drive, however whenever I do use the bus, I will use a bus pass and I think if that was taken away, I wouldn’t travel to certain areas nowhere near as much, particularly where it isn’t convenient to use a car.”

Hampshire County Council has recently held a consultation on the proposed changes, which will be discussed by councillors.

Councillor Edward Heron, executive lead member for transport, said: “I’d like to reassure service users especially, that no decisions have been made.

"We will endeavour to minimise the impact on passengers from any changes that may be agreed at a later date however, it is essential that we find ways to do things differently and with reduced costs."

The council said it would continue to meet its statutory duties and to work in partnership with bus operators to secure a network of bus services for residents across Hampshire within the resources available.

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