DRASTIC cuts in the Londonlink bus service are set to put the brakes on travel to the capital.
Passengers learned this week of changes to the timetable of the X7 route, which goes through Yateley, Camberley and Bagshot before joining the M3 at Lightwater for central London and Victoria.
It was slashed on Sunday February 10, losing one morning and three afternoon trips to London.
The last journey from the Dog and Partridge stop in Reading Road, Yateley, is now 10.47am. The last bus from Victoria is now 7.45pm instead of 10.30pm.
This means local residents can no longer use the bus to enjoy an evening out in London, and are also greatly restricted on daytime visits.
Similar reductions have been made in Saturday services, with the last bus from Victoria at 7.55pm rather than 10.30pm.
Sunday schedules are now just two trips each way instead of six.
No public announcements have been made by the bus company, Green Line, which has angered passengers even more.
Alan Carter, who uses the bus every week, said: "This virtually cuts us off and the company has not even had the courtesy to let people know what is happening or give us an explanation.
"I only knew when I saw a notice about a new timetable in a bus window last week, and I made further inquiries. It is a disgrace.
"It is half-term holiday this week and I bet parents wanting to take children to the museums in London were at the stop waiting for a bus that never came."
Mr Carter, chairman of the Yateley branch of the University of the Third Age, is particularly concerned about the effect on older residents.
"Many retired people do not want to drive into London or maybe have no access to a car," he said.
"We have no railway station in Yateley, so it's a case of getting to Fleet or Camberley by taxi or car, trying to find a parking space and catching a train. But many regard the trains as unreliable anyway.
"The only alternative is using our cars — at a time when Ken Livingstone is saying he wants cars kept out of London and the government is trying to encourage everyone to use public transport.
"The Londonlink has until now been regarded as an excellent service and an easy way for people from this part of the south to get into the capital. This will virtually kill its use."
A spokesman for operator First, the parent company of Green Line, said that when use and economics were being assessed the Bracknell to London service was counted in with its connecting Windsor service.
He said: "Tourism was severely hit last year with fewer visitors, particularly after September 11, and we had a drop in users of our buses and, consequently, revenue.
"Cuts had to be made and we have concentrated on retaining the commuter services. We are sorry to lose the passengers who would have used the bus for an evening in London.
"Information about the changes was available on the coach and people can always check with our information line before they go out to catch a bus."
He admitted that no press releases had been sent out, no notices put up at bus stops and that the travel line was often continuously engaged or there was no reply.
A Hampshire County Council spokesman said: "This is not a route subsidised by the council. We will be comparing the revised timetable with the one it replaces to see what we can do."