Council urged to save vital ‘route 66’ Buxton to Chesterfield bus service

The 66 service runs from Buxton to Chesterfield and Calow Hospital.
The 66 service runs from Buxton to Chesterfield and Calow Hospital.

Derbyshire County Council is under pressure to step in and save a rural bus service which is due to be withdrawn.

Bus operator Hulleys of Baslow is to cease running the 66 service from Buxton to Chesterfield and Calow Hospital on November 4, claiming it is no longer profitable as a commercial service.

Hulleys took over the route two years ago after the county council stopped subsidising the service and the previous operator pulled out.

Operations manager Alfred Crofts said: “Had we not stepped in, the service would have disappeared two years ago. We introduced a service between Buxton and Baslow, connecting with Service 170. Only one journey per day served the hospital.

“After two years of making a loss, we have no choice but to withdraw it. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused, but we cannot possibly be expected to run a service at such heavy losses.”

He added: “We consulted with customers on how to improve passenger numbers. Having implemented the changes, numbers fell further.”

Critics of the move say it will leave the communities of Blackwell, Millers Dale, Litton, Tideswell, Wardlow Mires, Hucklow, Foolow, Eyam, Stoney Middleton and Calver with no direct bus service into Chesterfield.

Hulleys is advising college students and commuters to use the 65 to connect with the C2 at Calver Sough.

Other passengers can use the 173 from Tideswell, or 275 from Eyam and Stoney Middleton to Bakewell and change onto the 170 or X70 into Chesterfield.

Derbyshire Dales district councillors Neil Buttle, Chris Furness, Clare Gamble and Peter O’Brien are making a last ditch effort to pressure the county council to support the 66 for 12 months until more permanent solutions are found.

In a joint statement, they said: “Axing the 66 bus service would be a body blow to the sustainability of our Peak District communities, which are already under threat from the withdrawal of banking and other essential local services.”

They added: “The idea of forming a Route 66 partnership could well represent a model for such services in the Peak District. We are therefore asking the county council to provide funding to maintain the service for an initial 12 months.”

Coun Simon Spencer, the county council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “We are aware that Hulleys are planning to stop running this service as it is no longer commercially viable.

“I have asked our public transport team to look at the issues related to this service, and what the implications are for local people.

“We will look at all options available and work with our colleagues in the parish and district council to see if together we can find a solution.”