A ROMSEY woman has slammed upcoming changes to a bus route, calling it 'pure laziness'.

Diane Kingston raised the issue about the 66 service between Winchester to Romsey.

Stagecoach is cutting part of the route from May 26. It currently takes passengers north from the A3090 towards Abbotswood and then south on Braishfield Road before rejoining the A3090. 

The new route will cut out Cupernham Lane instead taking people further along the A3090, north on Braishfield Road and then onto Jermyns Lane.

Mrs Kingston, 66, of Cavendish Close, told the Advertiser it will mean many people have to walk much further to a bus stop. The retired IT manager said: “Before Covid this service was once an hour, alternating with another half an hour later going via Abbotswood and Jermyns Lane. 

“An improvement would be having buses on the Cupernham Lane route on Saturday and Sunday, not cutting this service entirely. Additionally, at a time when people should be encouraged to reduce car journeys to help us reach net carbon zero, this doesn't seem an appropriate time to be cutting such a service.”

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She added: “I'm concerned for people who are less able to walk or don't have a car. They will have much further to walk. How can this be an improvement? I think it's pure laziness. 

“It's not an improvement at all. It serves a large area with many elderly people and people who are less able to walk.”

On Stagecoach's website, it says the number of buses will increase. It said: “Working in partnership with Hampshire County Council, and with funding from the government's Bus Service Improvement Plan+ grant, from Sunday, May 26 we are making improvements to service 66 with buses running half hourly during the day on Mondays to Saturdays with new earlier and later buses on Sundays. 

“The buses which run via The Straight Mile, Crampmoor, Woodley Lane and Cupernham Lane on Mondays to Fridays only will all follow the standard route via Jermyns Lane, Abbotswood and Winchester Hill making the service simpler and more consistent for users.”

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Hampshire Chronicle:

Test Valley borough councillor Geoff Cooper urged Stagecoach to think again. He said: “It's not the first time Stagecoach is cutting its services. The 66 provides vital public transport. It will be a long walk to a bus stop for people at the top of Cupernham Lane. I urge Stagecoach to reconsider this.”

County councillor Nick Adams-King said: “It’s very sad to see the route of the 66 bus change to remove the section that included Cupernham Lane and Woodley Lane. I recognise that this leave many older residents with a significant distance to walk to access the bus stops for the service on Winchester Road and Braishfield Road. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Nick Adams-King

“Stagecoach’s 66 service is a commercial one, which means that it is not supported by the county council. Therefore the ability to influence the route is limited. I have however spoken with the passenger transport team at HCC who agreed to reflect the local concern to Stagecoach. 

“I’ve also made my own representation to the company requesting they review the route change. I would urge anyone who uses the 66 service and will be disadvantaged by the change to contact Stagecoach to let them know of their concern.”

A Stagecoach spokesman said: "With all buses now calling at the busiest stops through the growing community of Abbotswood, there are less well-used stops to the east of Romsey which will no longer be used by Service 66, including along the Straight Mile.  There will unfortunately be an impact on the small number of customers using these stops, but the vast majority of customers traveling by bus will see an improvement in the service we provide.

"We're encouraging people to try the bus with a free travel initiative every Sunday and Bank Holiday between May 26 and June 30."