OUTRAGED bus passengers have hit out at plans to axe two key routes in April.

It was revealed this week that First Bus plans to withdraw its 575 service, which runs between Bolton and Horwich, and the 571/572 Bolton to Great Lever circular.

The transport company plans to withdraw services ‘which not only are poorly used but also, at this current time, do not have the potential to grow’ from April 8.

Margaret Platt, secretary of the Roseneath Area Residents Association, saw multiple 571 and 572 services withdrawn on Thursday and is concerned about the impact on Great Lever residents.

She said: “I am absolutely appalled, dismayed, disgusted but not surprised at First Bus’ withdrawal of the 571/572 bus route to Great Lever.

“They have been trying for some time to get rid of this route, maybe it is because bus users on this route are sick of not having a reliable service and do complain about it.

“For some time now buses have either been running late or just being withdrawn.

“Thursday is a typical example — there was a message on the electronic timetable on 571/572 stand stating that the 571 buses at 8.45am, 9.45am, 10.45am, 11.45am, 12.45pm, 1.45pm and 2.45pm, plus the 572 buses at 8.15am, 9.15am, 10.15am, 11.15am, 12.15pm, 1.15pm and 2.15pm had been withdrawn.

“This results in people being left standing at bus stops en route for 20 to 30 minutes unaware that the service is withdrawn.”

She added: “If this service is completely withdrawn what are people from Great Lever meant to do? Great Lever is classed as a deprived area and not everyone has a car or can afford taxis.”

The plans to cancel the 575 service prompted shock from passengers and councillors, as it is a busy route used by commuters.

Although Arriva’s 575 route will continue, passenger Aaron Frodsham remains concerned.

He said: “I work up Horwich way, so it will be more difficult for me to get to work if the service isn’t running.

“The bus is always busy in the morning with people using it for work, it is an important route.”

However, the cancelled First services are not the only ones that bus users have complaints over.

Eamonn Giblin has also raised concerns about First’s 36 and 37 services that run between Bolton and Manchester via Farnworth.

He said: “It is an outrage. People are always having to wait for ages at the bus stop.

“At least once a day, I find myself waiting for an hour at some point in the network.

“You can always depend on the 36 and 37 to let you down.

“On Thursday, it took me an hour and a half to get from Tesco in Farnworth to Bolton Interchange.

“In the end, I had to walk to the town centre in Farnworth to get the number eight bus, because there was no sign of a 37 coming.

“First have written on their buses that there is a bus every 10 minutes or better — that is just wrong.”

First Bus has so far declined to make further comment on the reasons for the service withdrawals, with bosses expected to release a statement next week.

A First spokesman said on Wednesday: “We can confirm that some changes to services are proposed for introduction in April and where it is in the interests of customers and the public, we have provided advance notification of those plans to Transport for Greater Manchester.”

Last year, the company was hit by a number of drivers’ strikes amid a pay dispute.