FIGURES used to justify cuts to bus services are flawed, says a residents’ group.

The 7 and 8 routes from Southend to Hockley and Rayleigh are being cut by operator Arriva, from six per hour to just two, from February 9.

Arriva has said because of low customer numbers on the two routes, it is not commercially viable to keep all six buses every hour.

According to Essex Country Council, Arriva estimate only 45 passengers per day use the Number 7 bus in the Greensward Lane area.

In a recent letter, Norman Hume, county councillor for transport, said these low passenger numbers would result in too high a subsidy for the county council to support the route’s continued level of service.

But the Hockley Res- idents’ Association has done its own one-day survey which, it claims, shows about 12 times that number are using the buses. They are urging Arriva to review their passenger figures and restore the services.

Brian Guyett, chairman of Hockley Residents’ Association, said: “We accept a one-day survey cannot be a wholly accurate overall average, but it is a lot more realistic than Arriva’s figure.

“Volumes are not high and some cuts are appropriate. However, Arriva’s vast under-estimate of the passenger numbers suggests its calculations are fundamentally flawed and we ask them to urgently look again at the figures.”

Carried out at Station Approach, in Hockley, the survey showed an average of five people using each No 7 bus in Greensward Lane between 8am and 6pm.

A further survey was carried out by David Fryer-Kelsey, chairman of the Hockley Parish Plan Group, who, between 10am and noon one weekday in Greensward Lane, counted 13 Number 7 buses carrying 78 passengers.

Arriva spokesman Malcolm Spalding said he was not able to comment on the association’s survey or the figures attributed to Arriva by the county council.

Meanwhile, Rayleigh MP Mark Francois has also said he is opposed to cuts in the service.