A YOUTH worker fears a community music project could be in jeopardy after a vital bus service was axed.

Music tutor Jason Baxter says reaching students at Palacefields Community Centre in Runcorn takes him far too long after the X1 express service ceased at the beginning of April.

What was a 50-minute journey from his Liverpool home has become a one hour and 40 minutes marathon.

With three sessions per week, he now spends ten hours a week on the bus and wonders if his role is tenable, while a recently hired co-worker has already quit after the X1 stopped.

Jason, employed by Runcorn-based Four Estates charity, said: “I have been doing important work in Runcorn working with children who suffer from social isolation and lack access to music provision, as well as working with asylum seekers and people with mental health issues.”

Jason, who grew up in Weston Point, said the music project aided positive wellbeing and communication by helping people to process the world around them, develop social skills and learn how to express themselves.

It promoted resilience by showing the rewards that result from being determined to overcome barriers. 

One young person recently secured an interview at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, another’s achievements will count towards a GCSE and a former student gained a place at music college.

Runcorn and Widnes World: The X1 bus service in RuncornThe X1 bus service in Runcorn (Image: Mike Amesbury)

Jason added: “Runcorn is already isolated and lacking opportunities, and the social consequences of axing the X1 is very harmful, not only for this music project but for countless other members of the community.

“This bus needs to be seen as an essential public health service because the cheque for the damage done in further isolating Runcorn residents, including young people, will need to be picked up down the line regardless. Cutting this service is an act of short-sightedness.”

Jason approached Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury concerning the X1 after reading about his campaign to try and save the route. 

Mr Amesbury, who met Jason at Palacefields Community Centre, said: “I want to highlight this case and others with Liverpool City Region and Halton Council because of the social and economic impact of this bus service cut.

“Poor public transport is another hangover of privatisation from the Thatcher days.

“Labour metro mayor Steve Rotheram aims to re-regulate the buses and create an integrated public transport system.

“Until then, we have to find a way to support vital routes like this, and I am going to keep pushing for this service to be reinstated.”