New bus timetable gives Dunmow passengers just EIGHT minutes to shop in Saffron Walden

Stephensons bus

Stephensons bus - Credit: Archant

Architects of a bus timetable which gives shoppers from Dunmow just EIGHT minutes to go around town may have to go back to the drawing board.

Essex County Council has changed and cut a number of services in the county, including the 313 between the two Uttlesford towns which from on Saturdays, starting on April 16, will see the last return bus from Saffron Walden leave towards Dunmow at 1pm, only eight minutes after it arrives in the north Essex town.

There is also a later bus from Dunmow to Saffron Walden, leaving at 2pm, but there will no longer be 4.50pm return service.

The service, run by Stephensons of Essex isn’t much better in the week. In term-time, the last bus to Dunmow from Saffron Walden is 3.20pm. In the school holidays, the last bus is at 1pm. The bus from Dunmow to Saffron Walden during the holidays, arrives at 10.52, again giving just two hours in the town.

The new timetable was condemned as “ridiculous” by Dunmow town councillor Wendy Barron. She said: “Who’s going to go to Saffron Walden on a Saturday for eight minutes? Whoever decided this really hasn’t put their thoughts together.”

Caroline Fuller, Dunmow town clerk, added: “We responded to the consultation about the withdrawal of the bus service. We didn’t want this service stopped. The new timetable was flagged up at the last town council meeting as absurd.

“We understand about cuts but it would cost the same to have the two services at times when they were some use to people. Saffron Walden is our biggest town and people want to go there.”

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Other cuts where buses will be withdrawn altogether or replaced by dial-a-ride include on the Steeple Bumpstead to Braintree route, replacing the bus with a dial-a-ride for the Sampfords, Bardfields and Great Saling, and on the Great Dunmow to Braintree route, the service for Great Saling and Stebbing.

Services from Thaxted to Bishop’s Stortford have been withdrawn, from Leaden Roding to Great Dunmow is under consultation and changes are being made on buses serving Chelmsford to Stansted.

Bill Hiron, managing director of the bus company Stephensons, told the Broadcast: “The timetable changes are nothing to do with us. The service is operated under contract to Essex County Council and following a big public consultation exercise, many services across Essex are changing from Monday, April 11.

“The new timetable was specified as the part of the tendering exercise for services from that date. We are simply operating the route as per the contract.”

A spokesman for ECC said: “We are conscious the current revision to the 313A Saturday timetable is somewhat limiting and will be working with the bus operator to see if a more comprehensive service can be developed. The 42, 133 and 6 bus services depart hourly and travel between Great Dunmow and Saffron Walden, via Stansted Airport.”