Stephensons launches new service to cover for withdrawn 6A bus

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MD Bill Hiron says the development shows the commercial market responds to customer needs, something which would be lost under re-regulation

Sir David Amess MP joined local councillors, members of the Southend Area Bus User Group, and representatives from Southend Borough Council to launch a new bus service in Leigh-on-Sea.

Stephensons of Essex, an independent bus operator, is stepping in to replace a shoppers’ bus service 6A which is being withdrawn by Arriva. The new bus started on Friday, August 21 and will run every Tuesday and Friday, with four trips each way.

Stephensons’ MD Bill Hiron explained: “When we heard that the existing operator was dropping the 6A between Leigh and Belfairs, we decided to step in and see if we could make the route more successful, as we have done with our bus 17 between Southend, Chalkwell and Leigh.

“Although we won’t run as many times a day, our bus will still give plenty of opportunities to get to Leigh for shopping, to visit the Library or the Old Town. To answer regular calls for a better service from The Fairway and Belgrave Road, the bus will also continue to those areas.”

At the launch, Sir David Amess called Stephensons ‘the best independent bus operator in the country’, and thanked them for stepping in.

Bill Hiron continued: “This is the commercial market responding to customer needs. This sort of initiative, and indeed operators like Stephensons all across the country, are likely to lose their businesses and their livelihood as part of the current proposals for re-regulation in some parts of England, with a worse deal for customers, and a huge risk to the public purse.”

Established in the early 1970s, Stephensons now operates over 90 buses across Essex and west Suffolk, providing employment for over 120 staff.