Questions over at risk bus service linger as 6,000 sign petition to save it
About 6,000 people have signed an online petition pleading for a well-used coastal bus service to be saved.
A question mark still hangs over the future of the Coasthopper - which runs from King's Lynn to Cromer - after bus firm Stagecoach East indicated at the end of January it would slash its Lynn-based operations.
The petition, which was started by Colin Flowerday and is now listed under the group 765 Action Committee Holt, said: 'Coasthopper bus service has operated on the Norfolk coast for 21 years, giving vital connections to allow people to do their shopping or go out seeing friends. The Coasthopper is needed.
'We can't loose this wonderful, reliable bus service, even if Stagecoach don't realise this service is loved and people want to continue to travel on the service.'
There has been speculation that other bus firms, such as Lynn-based Lynx or Holt's Sanders Coaches, could step in and take over parts of the route if Stagecoach were to pull out.
But the current operator is yet to confirm if it is definitely giving up the Coasthopper, and Norfolk County Council (NCC), which subsidises the route, is also holding its cards close to its chest while it tries to secure a way forward.
However, a council spokesman said they were optimistic the route would continue.
He said: 'Following the recent announcement that Stagecoach is reviewing its services, NCC have had various meetings with both Stagecoach and other operators regarding Coasthopper, and we are confident that this route will be covered in the future. Further information will be released in the next couple of weeks.'
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The Coasthopper began in 1997, and was originally operated by Norfolk Green. It was sold to Stagecoach in 2013.
Stagecoach has said it is now 'reviewing' its Norfolk routes and is considering closing its Lynn depot, blaming a combination of rising operating costs and pressure on public sector budgets. Dr Marie Strong, county councillor for Wells, said she was also confident the service would continue. She said: 'I believe that a bus service will be offered all the way along the north Norfolk coast. We just need to remember that anything worthwhile is worth waiting for.'
The petition can be found online at you.38degrees.org.uk