For weeks now I have been urging Lancashire County Council to reinstate the Forton bus stop which was closed without notice until March, with residents being forced to walk down slim pathways and grass verges, crossing the busy 50mph A6 to get to the nearest alternative stop.

In their initial response, Lancashire County Council explained that the following short-term solution had been implemented:

“When buses approach the works and need to stop to pick up or drop-off passengers at the current bus stop, the traffic management company will place the lights on all red to allow the bus service to stop to collect or drop-off all passengers. The bus will then continue along the route. This will be repeated throughout the day for all services should it be required. This is an interim solution until the new bus stop is constructed and then the old bus stop will be closed and removed.”

My hope was that after this, the bus stop could be used again by passengers as usual. Frustratingly, this has not been the case.  Buses have not been stopping and I have seen this for myself, and heard from many of you that buses have been sailing by without even trying to stop. It seems clear that between the County Council, the housing developer, and Stagecoach management/drivers, the message may not be getting through.

I followed this up with Lancashire County Council explaining again, that residents of Forton are being severely inconvenienced by the closure of the bus stop and it is disappointing that they were told their worries were being addressed and then this has not happened.

As an update, firstly Lancashire County Council have said that they will now make improvements to the grass verges at the alternative bus stop, advising:

“In light of your email, we have requested that improvements are made to the stop with some hard standing being introduced to the grassed verge to prevent the conditions described within your email. The contractors have agreed to make these improvements as soon as possible.”

But in a more substantive response on the School Lane stop, Lancashire County Council have explained that:

“Following concerns raised by residents, an informal agreement was made between Stagecoach Bus Company and Aptus Utilities who are the contractors on site responsible for the traffic management. This informal agreement allowed Stagecoach to stop the buses, with the assistance of the traffic signals operator, in the vicinity of the closed stop, to allow passengers to board and alight the bus.

Following further correspondence with Stagecoach, we understand the terms of the informal agreement have only recently been shared with all drivers of the route. This may explain why some inconsistency has been experienced.

I should note, that whilst we have not been directly involved in the conditions of the agreement, we understand that it is on an informal basis. Should the bus drivers deem it unsafe to stop, they will continue along the route to the temporary bus stop.”

I’m disappointed that the County Council are not taking a very proactive approach to broker an arrangement that benefits residents, instead leaving this to two private companies to agree something “informal” which leaves passengers stranded if drivers choose not to stop.

Please be assured that I am still in communication with Lancashire County Council, urging them to work with the housing developers and contractors to get the bus stops back urgently. I have also contacted Stagecoach to make sure that they are explicitly aware how damaging this situation has and continues to be for Forton residents.

I will continue to provide any updates as a receive them, and you can read the most recent Lancashire County Council responses to me below:

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