Formby Labour councillors and local residents say changes to 44 'hospital bus' will be like cutting a lifeline

Formby Labour councillors Tim Hale and Nina Killen with Eileen and Phil Morgan who rely on the 44 bus service to get to and from Southport Hospital.

Formby Labour councillors says the latest cut to a bus service in Formby is a cut too far.

The 44 bus service currently runs from Formby Library down Kirklake Road, St Luke's Church Road and Bushbys Lane, then on to Southport & District General Hospital and Crossens.
 
But Arriva say they cannot keep the timetable on the current route and while not enough people are using the service in Formby it is busy in Southport.
 
As a result, from July 19 the service will skip Kirklake Road, St Luke's Church Road and Bushbys Lane and instead go straight down King's Road then on to Southport.
 
This is the second time the service has been reduced having previously been reduced from half-hourly to hourly.
 
Formby Labour councillor Nina Killen has been contacted by Formby residents who rely on the service.
 
Cllr Killen said: "The changes to the 44 bus service's route will be really devastating for some people in Formby who regularly use the bus to get to and from the hospital in Southport. Some of these people have already raised the issue with me.
 
"One resident who lives on the stretch of the route which is due to be axed, says he drives at the moment but his wife, who is partially sighted, relies on the bus. He fears when he can't drive any more they will struggle.
 
"The people who use the 44 need it most because they don't have access to other transport which is why they use the bus.
 
"The 160 Formby circular goes down there but gets to Formby Library 50 minutes before the 44 leaves, so that is hardly a convenient connection.
 
"I have raised this issue with Merseytravel to see what action can be taken.
 
"This is a service that we need here in Formby. People rely on it. Surely a solution can be found. I don't think it is acceptable to just cut the route. It leaves some of Formby's elderly and less abled people cut off while the route in Southport which is served by lots of buses is maintained.
 
"While Arriva say that not many people use the service, the ones who do absolutely need it and often don't have any alternative for getting to and from the hospital."
 
Phil (74) and Eileen (73) Morgan are one couple who regularly use the service. Eileen is visually impaired and relies on the 44 to get to and from the hospital.
She said: "The 44 bus is our hospital bus service. We need it. Other people here in Formby need it. I have used the 44 bus three times this week alone. It is an essential service.
 
"It drops me outside my house and I don't have to cross any roads, which is getting more and more difficult with my eye-sight problems.
 
"Once this bus goes from this route, I will have to walk to the station, which is quite a way away from where I live. Lots of people who use the 44 will be as stuck as I will be."
 
Fellow Formby Labour councillor Tim Hale urged Arriva to reverse the decision to change the route.
 
Cllr Hale said: "People do rely on this service. Many of them are elderly or even disabled. They use this service to get to and from hospital.
 
"To cut out this part of the route you are leaving a whole section of the community stranded.
 
"I understand that funding for public transport has been slashed by the government. But we need to ensure that communities and individuals are not being left isolated. Those people who rely on the 44 will argue that this latest cut will do just that."
 
Formby Labour councillors Tim Hale and Nina Killen with Eileen and Phil Morgan who rely on the 44 bus service to get to and from Southport Hospital.