A NUMBER of key timetable changes will be introduced from Monday after a controversial consultation.

Reading Buses received significant backlash over proposed reductions and cuts to services, particularly those in Caversham.

Pink 23 and 24 have been merged to produce circular routes, linking Caversham Park and Emmer Green.

A total of nine routes have been affected by the changes, with campaigners insisting more could have been done to save vital commuter routes.

The Pink 22 and Lower Earley 19 routes will be combined and renamed 'Red 22', with buses running to the Royal Berkshire Hospital every hour.

Fiona Pringle, one of the campaigners, said:  "The 22 has received very severe cuts and they are much worse than Reading Buses had advertised them to be.

"We feel enormously disappointed. At each stage Reading Buses have moved the goal posts. The residents of Caversham Heights are going to be hit very hard by these changes.

Reading Chronicle:

"The parents getting their children to the Heights will be unable to do so and they will need to take to their cars if their children are too young to make the long walk.

"We are stuck between a rock and a hard place, as Reading Buses say these buses are not being used. We have taken photographs to prove they are.

"This is a huge difference and is dishonest for them to slide this through."

Reading Buses revealed drastic measures to axe the 24 service amid concerns the company was losing money, but backed down during the consultation.

Martijn Gilbert, CEO of Reading Buses, explained it had become impossible to provide the comprehensive network while passenger numbers were declining.

He added: “We now encourage the residents of Caversham to get on board their local bus services, many of which are going to receive a much better service than planned.

“A number of the enhancements, such as linking Caversham Park and Emmer Green, and the link to the RBH, were implemented following customer feedback about new links which will get more people onboard as an alternative to service reductions.

"We must keep reiterating that it is one thing to respond to a consultation to keep the service running, and quite another to maintain the service in the face of dwindling customer numbers.”