Patients heading to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff face an extra half hour on their bus journey after Stagecoach announced the axing of one of its services.
From September 1, the number 25 bus operating between Caerphilly and Cardiff will no longer operate and will be replaced by an extended 86 route instead.
Instead of being every 30 minutes, buses on the new 86 service will run every hour. Journey times will also increase from Caerphilly to University Hospital Wales in Cardiff by 33 minutes – taking an almost an hour to get there.
Stagecoach, which operates most of the service without a public subsidy, made the surprise announcement earlier this week and blamed passenger numbers for scrapping the service.
The journeys on the current 25 service at 7.25pm from Caerphilly and 8pm from Cardiff on Monday to Saturday, as well as all Sunday journeys will be renumbered as 86X as these journeys are funded by Caerphilly County Borough Council.
Caerphilly Assembly Member Hefin David said the move came with no consultation and had written to the company demanding answers.
He said: “The removal of this service will impact on passengers travelling into Cardiff, but probably most importantly, those patients, visitors and staff making their way to the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff.
“I understand the journey time for the revised number 86 service will more than double and the frequency of this service will be hourly, rather than the current half hourly service. Clearly this is unacceptable so I’m encouraging local residents to get in touch with me so we can call on Stagecoach to revise their plans.”
Passengers have vented their frustrations via Dr David’s Facebook page.
A Stagecoach spokeswoman said: “We know of the volume of patronage and the origin and destination of customers and their reason for travel from survey data, the change from September 1 bears this in mind, whilst retaining the key links to the hospital. Caerphilly Road in Cardiff already has a many buses serving the area, with customers for Caerphilly from this area being small in number.
“We closely consulted with Cardiff Council on this change, as they support the service 86. We have notified customers and Caerphilly Council of the change well ahead of the September 1 start date.
“Stagecoach appreciates that the change to service 25 may not be welcome by all customers, we have taken steps to retain a Cardiff – Caerphilly service via Heath Hospital that should be sustainable; noting from our survey data of 2018 reasons for travel and passenger volume by destination.”
The firm also said it ran a consultation last year on potential changes to the route and said the survey “identified few users on the unique service 25 routing”.
According to the Traffic Commissioner’s Office, an application to cancel the 25 route was submitted on July 9 this year. Bus services outside of London are deregulated and it is up to bus operators to decide what routes they provide.
If they wish to register a new service, or cancel an existing one, by law they must give the Traffic Commissioner’s Office at least 56 days’ notice.