The Spondon Flyer bus service is to be permanently axed, local bus company trentbarton have announced.
The service had been suspended by trentbarton since November 2021, with the company originally citing a shortage of drivers as the reason for not being able to run the route. However, the company has now withdrawn the service for good, stating that it had been loss-making for a while and that passenger numbers on the service "haven't bounced back like others since the COVID pandemic". It is one of four routes across trentbarton's network being dropped.
The Spondon Flyer had been the subject of a number of cuts in service in recent years. The original dual route changed to a single route and the frequency of the services halved from 6 per hour to 3 (or less) per hour. In 2021, evening and Sunday services were also dropped on the service.
trentbarton maintain that Spondon is still served by the Ilkeston Flyer route. However, many residents have argued that this only covers the main road through Spondon, leaving many residents with a walk in excess of 15-20 minutes to and from their nearest bus stop. This has particularly affected elderly and disabled residents, many of who say they now feel stranded at home as they are unable to walk the distance to their closest Ilkeston Flyer stop.
The Spondon Flyer service had previously been suspended entirely during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic but was later restored. However, local residents were getting increasingly concerned that the current suspension would lead to the permanent axe which has now fallen on the route.
A petition launched back in March highlighted the concerns of local residents who were suffering without the service. It read: "This service is a lifeline for thousands of residents but especially those elderly users who are now completely cut off from public transport as the Ilkeston Flyer is not accessible causing unfair disadvantage to both Disabled and Elderly residents in the village.
"We feel this lack of service is having a multitude of effects on the health of all residents, from the mental health impacts of social isolation to the carbon impact of increased traffic due to lack of public transport.
Many businesses in Spondon village have reported a notable drop in footfall and trade in recent months. While other factors have contributed to this, such as continuing COVID concerns and the current cost of living crisis, many feel that it is the lack of the Spondon Flyer service which has had the largest impact.
It remains to be seen whether any other company is willing to step in to provide an alternative bus service to replace the Spondon Flyer or if Spondon's once-popular bus service is indeed gone forever.