Here’s a confession. As a driver, I take my car for granted. However, many people without cars rely solely on public transport. They have no other option when bus or trains are cancelled.

So to have a bus service axed is like cutting a lifeline - it can leave people stranded and isolated.

In December, Essex County Council launched a consultation to find out the importance of evening and Sunday bus services.

With low passenger numbers on some services, the council is looking at how it will support these in the future.

The consultation has now reached its halfway point with six weeks left for residents to have their say. In total, 15 per cent of the bus network in Essex is under consultation.

The majority of the bus network in Essex, around 85 per cent, is run commercially.

The remaining 15 per cent of services are said to be not commercially viable and it is these services which face the axe.

Buses which operate after 10pm are the ones being reviewed - in particular after 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on Saturdays.

The Sunday buses being reviewed are the ones running after 7pm and more frequently than two-hourly.

As Essex’s local transport authority, where no commercial service is provided, the county council has a duty to consider whether one is needed.

At present the county council spends about £9 million of taxpayers money on these subsidised services each year.

The number 66 First bus is the only bus which serves Rowhedge.

If this is axed, some residents will struggle to find an alternative way to get to Colchester.

Elizabeth Trellis, who used to be the village’s bus representative, has been urging residents to complete the consultation.

She said: “There is a core of people who use the buses, not just on Sundays but also the late night ones.

“There are people who work on Sundays who have had their wages docked as they have missed the first Sunday bus at 9am and have had to wait until 10am.

“It’s a little too far to walk from Rowhedge to Colchester.

“We need our voices heard and our feelings felt by writing to our county councillor.

“The Government wants us to get out of our cars and use public transport, but they are making it more difficult.”

Colchester bus campaigner Peter Kay said cuts would not affect a great number of users as most of the Sunday services are commercial.

However, he said the situation is unfair for those who rely on the buses.

He said: “Once again, this consultation is being done after officers have already decided what their new policy is to be.

“The declared policy includes some highly unbusiness-like elements that will only increase support costs.

“Introducing a new policy that buses carrying less than six people per journey will no longer be supported would be reasonable enough generally.


“But the council is proposing all buses after the deadline hours of 10pm and 7pm on Sundays are to be withdrawn, irrespective of how many people they carry.

“The most successful evening and Sunday services are thoseserving large council estates which produce a usage level to justify a frequent service.

“The proposed new policy is a particular attack on residents in these areas, including Greenstead.”

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “For the journeys under consultation the data from the operators shows on average less than six people are travelling on that journey.

“This is being tested as part of consultation.

“The overall cost of Sunday and evening services to taxpayers is £1.9 million.”

Ray Gooding, Essex county councillor, said: “We have a strong record of supporting local bus services particularly in comparison with other local transport authorities who have significantly reduced the level of support they offer.

“At present we spend around £9 million of taxpayers money on these services each year.

“However, with the number of passengers in some cases falling below six per journey, coupled with the strong financial pressure on all local government funding, we have to look carefully at how we provide our services to ensure the limited funding available is focused where it will do the most good and where communities need it.”

The consultation will run until March 22.

The consultation can be completed at

Paper versions are also available to collect from libraries.

Residents can also complete the consultation over the phone by calling 03457 430 430 or by e-mailing

The list of evening services under consultation includes:

  • The 1A First bus from Ambrose Avenue to Greenstead after 10.15pm
  • The 2A First bus from Highwoods to Great Horkesley from 10.26pm
  • The 4 Hedingham bus from Clacton to Jaywick from 10.15pm
  • The 6A/6B Hedingham service from Clacton to Point Clear from 10.17pm
  • The 7 First bus from Frinton to Clacton at 10.19pm
  • The 31 First bus from Chelmsford through Maldon and Burnham from 10.15pm
  • The 64/64A First service from Greenstead to St Michaels Estate, Shrub End and Layer-de-la-Haye from 10pm.
  • The 66 First bus from Colchester North Station to Rowhedge from 10.40pm
  • The 66B First bus from West Bergholt, through Colchester and Old Heath from 11pm
  • The 68 First bus from Highwoods to West Mersea from 10.50pm
  • The 71A First service from Chelmsford, through Witham, Kelvedon and Colchester, from 10.30pm
  • The 74B First bus from Clacton, through Alresford to Colchester at 10.10pm
  • The 88/88A from Colchester through Earls Colne to Halstead, from 10.40pm
  • The 100 First service from Clacton to Walton at 10.45pm
  • The 102 First bus from Colchester to Harwich at 11.35pm
  • The 352 Hedingham service from Chelmsford to Halstead at 10.45pm
  • The 21 Stephensons service from Bocking to Black Notley at 7.30pm and 8.30pm

The list of Sunday services under consultation includes:

  • The 1A First service from Ambrose Avenue to Greenstead
  • The 2A First service from Highwoods to Great Horkesley
  • The 66 First service from Colchester to West Bergholt
  • The 66 First service from Colchester North Station to Rowhedge
  • The 67B First service from West Mersea to Monkwick
  • The 70 First service from Colchester to Chelmsford
  • The 71C First service from Chelmsford to Witham, Kelvedon and Colchester
  • The 75 First service from Maldon to Colchester
  • The 76 First service from Clacton to Colchester
  • The 88A First service from Halstead to Eight Ash Green and Colchester
  • The 100 First service from Clacton to Thorpe-le-Soken
  • The 102 and 106 First services from Colchester to Harwich
  • The 352 First service from Broomfield to Halstead