RESIDENTS of a group of Rossendale villages and towns have asked bus company bosses to rethink timetable changes lengthening journey time into Manchester.

Disabled passenger Annie Taylor has written to Transdev about the slowing of 'express' connections to the city from Rising Bridge, Acre, Haslingden and Helmshore.

She has complained about the scrapping of the X40 and the addition of a diversion through Ewood Bridge, Edenfield, Stubbins and Ramsbottom of the X41 earlier this month.

The volunteer counsellor from Blackburn Road, Acre, cannot now travel by public transport to Manchester and is unable to drive a car.

Ms Taylor conducted a Facebook survey using the Rising Bridge community, Acre Village News, Love Haslingden and This is Helmshore pages which produced several expressions of similar concern.

Her letter says: "The excellent half hourly X40 bus service meant I could complete the journey in 40 minutes finally permitting me to travel into Manchester two or three times per week.

"Sadly the X40 was then abolished and I was forced to use the X41.

"Sadly this X41 service has evolved into a longer and longer journey and what was once 40 minutes became an arduous and painful 55 minutes minimum, often extended to 1hour 30 minutes or more!

"This meant I was no longer able to cope and I had to stop using the service apart from on rare occasions.

"These journey times are completely unacceptable.

"When I discovered the recent changes to make this once express service even slower and longer, I realised I would be completely prevented from accessing Manchester via public transport.

"Whilst residents of Stubbins and Ramsbottom are now to receive a fast service to Manchester, it is entirely at the detriment of residents of Rising Bridge, Acre, Haslingden and Helmshore.

"Transdev’s actions appear to be forcing many to stop travelling to Manchester or revert to driving on the already congested roads.

"Surely this will only serve to have a negative impact on this part of Rossendale?

"I would propose there is a pressing need for a return of the X40 and X41 direct and fast bus services connecting Rising Bridge, Acre, Haslingden and Helmshore with Manchester."

Shaun Walmsley, general manager for Transdev's The Blackburn Bus Company said: "Red Express X41, whilst offering a fast and attractive route into Manchester, can't rely on the destinations or origin points of Accrington, Haslingden and Helmshore to support the future sustainability of the service going forward.

"Despite the journey time being slightly increased by as little as 13 minutes we can now serve a population of nearly 20,000 extra residents along the route, benefitting lots more people with a quick link into Manchester.

"We obviously welcome feedback from our customers and non-users and will continue to monitor the performance service over the coming months to look where improvements can be made."