Stagecoach has defended its action to stop a woman from collecting a petition in protest that the number 54 bus will no longer serve West Swindon.

Suzanne Allen, from Godolphin Close, in Freshbrook has gathered more than 500 signatures from bus users unhappy at the route change which will see the service, from Wootton Bassett to the Swindon Bus Station, via the Designer Outlet, no longer stop at Freshbrook or the Link Centre.

She claimed she was escorted off a bus by Stagecoach staff after collecting signatures from passengers on board.

A spokesman for the company said that the company’s assistant operations manager and a colleague had politely asked Ms Allen to leave the bus because she was not allowed to gather petition on board.

He explained: “As a general policy, we do not permit any form of campaigning or canvassing on our bus services. In line with this policy, a member of our staff explained to the lady that she did not have permission to petition passengers on board the bus and politely asked her to leave the vehicle.”

Miss Allen said that passengers were unhappy with the route changes because those travelling from Wootton Bassett to the Asda supermarket in West Swindon would now have to change buses. She added that students travelling to Swindon College’s North Star campus would also be affected.

The spokesman pointed out that the new timetables have been available since April 23 detailing the changes, and have been displayed on buses for nearly two weeks.

The changes came into place on May 4, which include an enhanced Route 66 service running from Swindon to Oxford via Faringdon.

“Wootton Bassett estates and Woodshaw will soon be able to take advantage of a direct bus service to Swindon town centre,” added the spokesman.

“The current Route 54 will be re-branded as Direct 54 and will no longer serve West Swindon, thus cutting the journey time down by 15 minutes, which is ideal for commuters.

“Passengers who wish to travel to West Swindon will be able to transfer to Service 8 at Paddington Drive at no extra cost.

“These passengers should simply retain their Direct 54 ticket or pass and show it to the driver of Service 8. Transfer tickets will also be available on journeys in the opposite direction and a through facility will continue to be provided during evenings and on Sundays on Service 55A.”

Stagecoach have reintroduced Service 72 which will cover the Swindon to Wroughton section of the current Route 54 that is not served by Direct 54, running every 20 minutes during the day, though at slightly different times to the current Route 54.

Punctuality will be improved on Route 55 and Service 7 following minor revisions to their timetables and all Sunday journeys on Service 7 will now serve South Marston Park. The spokesman said: “There will be minor timetable changes to afternoon journeys on Services 6 and 8 to reflect changes in customer demand, including the reduction of the Sunday frequency on Service 8 to every hour. There will also be minor timetable changes to Route 65 as a result of the enhancement to Route 66.”