Continue to use it, or lose it

First published in

USE it or lose it is a slogan often used by transport companies when threatening to close a service.

Belfairs bus users have proved there is a reverse side to the principle. Campaign and regain.

After three years of sustained pressure, Arriva has been persuaded to restore the 6A bus service, scrapped in 2005.

The campaigners responded to their victory in style. They packed out the first bus of the new service, turning the journey from Belfairs to Leigh station into a sort of Roman triumphal procession.

In the short term, then, they have proved their point emphatically.

Everybody stands to gain from this success - the passengers, the bus company, the environment, and not least, the reputation of local politics.

Working through their local councillor, the campaigners proved just how effective grassroots democracy can be.

There was every reason for a party spirit aboard that first bus out.

Having saved the service, however, campaigners must carry on using it.

Since the withdrawal of council subsidies, bus services in Southend have operated on straightforward economic lines.

If a route makes money, it will run. If it doesn't, it won't.

The message to Belfairs is simple.

Go on filling the 6A, or risk losing it again.

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