Extended bus services provide boost for tourism workers

by | Apr 10, 2024 | News

Extended bus services provide boost for tourism workers. Photo: Lee Wardle

An extended bus service between Furness and South Lakes is providing a welcome boost for tourism and hospitality workers working evening and weekend shifts.

Latest figures from Cumbria Tourism (March 2024) reveal that up to 81% of tourism businesses are facing problems with public transport, including challenges with timetables, frequency, coverage and connectivity.  Around half describe these issues as “significant problems” for their businesses.

As the county’s official Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP), Cumbria Tourism has been working closely with a number of key tourism businesses to lobby for enhanced services to help them meet ongoing workforce challenges in the county.  The organisation liaised closely with Westmorland and Furness Council’s transport team to justify the evening and weekend extensions; the Council has also funded the new additions.

It says the addition of new evening bus services – plus a new early morning Sunday service – for the number 6 route linking Barrow and Bowness-on-Windermere will make a positive difference for staff who rely on public transport to get to and from work.

With stops including Dalton, Ulverston and Newby Bridge, the extensions also open up new possibilities for locals to leave their car at home for an evening out.

Graham Hadaway, from Hargreaves Enterprises Ltd, runs a number of hospitality businesses. He comments: “Public transport in the Lake District is a crucial artery to the visitor economy. This is not only because of the lifeline it provides to staff; getting them to and from work, but also for the service it offers to our visitors. The extensions to the number 6 service not only open up new employment opportunities for people living towards Barrow, but also help alleviate existing conflicts between staff shift patterns and public transport availability.

“An additional benefit to these new services is the enhanced visitor experience. The later operating times open up the option for having a few beverages and a bite to eat in Bowness before a bus ride back home. I really encourage both commuters and tourists to make the most of these new services – along with the current £2 bus fares – as without everyone’s support these won’t be sustainable long term.”

Head of Partnerships and Projects at Cumbria Tourism, Rachel Tyson, says: “From the jobseekers we’ve met at recent recruitment fairs across Cumbria, around three quarters need public transport to get around – and that percentage rises further for people we’ve spoken to from Barrow. So Stagecoach’s number 6 bus service is a key route for hospitality workers and we’re really urging businesses to encourage their teams to make the most of it.”

She adds, “Staff recruitment and retention is an important area of work for Cumbria Tourism, and lobbying to enhance local bus routes is just part of a much bigger project to make flexible worker transport more available to the right people at the right times.

“We’ve recently welcomed a new Worker Transport Coordinator, Natalie Fryer, to help businesses with a wide range of worker transport challenges. She will be liaising closely with the transport teams at both Cumberland and Westmorland & Furness Councils to feed in industry requirements to tackle practical barriers and open up new ways for people to get and from the workplace. The new role has been funded by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP).”

Westmorland and Furness Council is funding a new 5:40am Barrow to Windermere service on Sundays, plus a 11:12pm Windermere to Barrow daily service. Details of the full timetable can be found here.