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Author Topic: C.B.C Reduction in Bus Subsidy 2011  (Read 15323 times)
Godfrey Willis
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« on: December 12, 2010, 05:21:25 PM »

Central Bedfordshire Council Executive have agreed a reduction in bus service subsidies from Financial Year 2011/12. The full effects on individual journeys are not yet known as timetable details reflecting the reductions are still incomplete. There are currently 77 subsidised services within the C.B.C. area but not all of these are within our sphere of interest. They have examined the worst performing (in cash terms) 40% of these services with a view to reaching the required savings. As many of these services are very lightly used (C.B.C stats) it can be assumed that any commercial operation is unlikely and thus "No subsidy = no service"
Attached to this bulletin is my interpretation of the overall impact, service by service but it must be stressed that this is simply taken from the Council's minutes and without confirmation of acceptance of resultant TT's this can only be used as an advanced warning at this stage.
BABUS will watch the position closely and any member who has any updated information (not rumour or speculation) is asked to post this ASAP.

Hertfordshire County Council has posted a similar listing but none of the service withdrawals affect "our" area. Bedford Borough Council have not yet issued any proposals or decisions.
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 02:35:56 AM »

Where is the Herts CC posting ? It's not on the Intalink website.

Incidentally Cambs CC launched a bus review consultation in October in which it seemed to imply (a
message that I passed on) that for most routes only the retention of the current service was being considered, and for the others this was an option (the only exception being the 152 about which I've written elsewhere, but I've since heard that this is not the case and the Council is now preparing to tear up this consultation and has launched a budget consultation with 4 options ranging from retention of current service levels (in which case the previous consultation will presumably come into its own) to total abolition of supported buses.

As regards the Central Beds cuts, the ones I think most worthy of campaigning about are the 97/A (why sell houses in Fairfield Park and bury the people alive for one day a week ?) and V2 (depriving a place the size of Cranfield, complete with university, of buses at any time is a disgrace). I also believe that these routes would be better used if extended to Arlesey station and Milton Keynes respectively. How about the following pair of routes which would also replace part of the former J4 and rescue Ampthill from live burial ?

(a) Bedford-Wootton-Marston Moretaine-Ampthill-Flitwick
(b) Milton Keynes-Coachway-Cranfield-Stewartby-Ampthill-Flitwick

connecting at Shelton to enable travel from Cranfield to Bedford.
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2010, 03:54:32 PM »

I am also concerned about the E6. This serves the major tourist attractions at Old Warden. I'm not sure whether it does that at times convenient for visitors but if not change the timetable rather than axe the service.

The E6 also serves the east end of Upper Caldecote, which is quite a long way from the M4. The M4 would no doubt serve it if it weren't for the problem of turning onto the A1. Can something be done to change the road layout to permit this ?

Meanwhile could the Ivel Sprinter provide a circular route from Biggleswade to Upper Caldecote, Old Warden and Southill at times suitable both for shoppers and visitors to Old Warden ? If so it could enable savings in the provision of the 200 as some journeys could omit the detour via Southill (and incidentally the revised E6 would serve the heart of Southill which the 200 doesn't).
 
Incidentally I've passed on the attachment above to the Campaign for Better Transport's bus campaigner Sophie Allain (sophie.allain@bettertransport.org.uk) who is planning to launch a "Save our Buses" campaign in the new year and wants details of what's happening locally.
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John Hammond
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 09:22:32 PM »

Sorry but bus services to Old Warden are a total waste of time. I regularly drove the 179 & 180 buses during the week, and they almost certainly never took anybody to the village, and only very rarely from the village to Biggleswade (one woman is probably so old, she doesnt travel by now). All they did do was annoy the passengers from Southill, Stanford and Shefford who had a detour round the houses to get to where they wanted to go.

It had 2-3 buses a day in each direction on a Sunday, and in all the times I drove the route on Sundays it never took anybody to the Swiss Gardens or Shuttleworth museum, that bus ran on Sundays for years and years under the old 'leisurelink' banner and carried on until September 2003. The resource was more useful running the bus via Potton & Gamlingay instead.

Places like Old Warden with a very small population and which are not sited on a logical route to anywhere are where alternative options should be explored, bookable community transport schemes like the Ivel Sprinter or WW bus step in and meet the needs (if indeed there are any needs). Even contributing to subsidised taxi fares would be cheaper and more sustainable than sending a precious resource (i.e the few buses C.B.C will pay for) to run around carrying fresh air and going to destinations that are served by existing bus routes. The M4 runs to Caldicote and meets the needs of 99% of passengers, it doesnt need the E6 treading on its toes when that bus could be going to Eyeworth, Wrestlingworth or Gamlingay and picking up passengers who don't have an alternative. 
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John Hammond
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 09:40:15 PM »

Arlesey already has a bus to Stotfold in service 90, extending the 97/97A would not do anything except duplicate this service. The 97 provides a link between Stotfold and Letchworth/Hitchin connecting with mainline stations at both towns, I don't see what extending it to Arlesey would offer.

What would be interesting to know is what section 106 contributions the new housing at Trininty Manor in Stotfold contributed to public transport, and why neither the 90 or 97 have been extended to serve anywhere near the estate, let alone through it.
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 07:57:11 PM »

There should be no no-go areas for public transport usersa (apart from totally unpopulated areas with no significant attractions for outsiders). As soon as one accepts the principle that only motorists should be able to go to certain places one is on a slippery slope to the total denial of service to rural areas which is a fact in most parts of N America and looks to be coming here in the near future.

As a non BABUS member John Hammond has presumably not read my review of "Transport in Suburbia" by Paul Mees in the latest BABUS newsletter. His international studies show how even tiny communities can have decent services if the relevant authorities go for an integrated network -- and people will use these services enough so that they need if anything less subsidy than the pitiful levels of service many people now have.

Maybe the Ivel Sprinter or Whitbread Wanderbus can serve Old Warden more effectively than a commercial operator. That is a completely separate issue to the level of service that such a community with a key tourist attraction needs. And I wouldn't say Old Warden was on the road to
nowhere: one could quite easily divert the odd 200 journey, which would also give a better service to Southill.

As for the Leisurelink network, was that ever marketed to Londoners ? London has about 7m people, Bedford about 70,000. So a joint venture with First Capital Connect (or BR as it was then) would have had the potential to multiply usage by up to 100.

Yes the M4 does serve Upper Caldecote but thanks to bus-hostile road planning people at the eastern end of the village have about a mile's walk to the bus stop.

As for the Stotfold area I have long been arguing that the 97 and 90 (including the section west of Arlesey station to Chicksands) should be integrated to avoid duplicated mileage.
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John Yunnie
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 07:46:12 PM »

The problem with joint maketing ventures by Bus Companies and Train Operating Companies (TOC) such as the suggested one to Old Warden is that the cost of promoting such a venture to the admitedly huge potential audience in London is out of all proportion to the value of tickets sold by any particular TOC.  Old Warden would be only one of countless similar destinations in a radius around London and would have to take its place alongside the others.  Whether or not we think they should do, the fact is that London area TOCs do not produce joint marketing of the kind that would be required; largely because the differing nature of their Franchise Agreements mean that they all have different objectives at any given time.  The TOCs tend, therefore, to mainly concentrate on promoting journey opportunities to large and popular destinations easily reached by their regular services and with no complicated add-ons involved.  An example is FCC's special fares from Bedford to London and Brighton, sold only threough the Bedford Tourist Office.
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2011, 11:50:46 PM »

Well that's one of the reasons why we need an end to fragmentation.
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John Hammond
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 04:27:10 PM »

To be honest I'm not ever interested in what 'academics' write about transport provision, they write about idealistic situations in which money is never an object. I base my opinion 1) on living in Bedfordshire for 23 years, 2) on driving buses throughout the county for several years 3) on working in public transport provision for the last nine years.

Services should always be geared to where they will be used and where a regular passenger flow will exist, not just joining up random lines because people think buses should go there. Old Warden in the past has had several different patterns of service but as the nature of the village has changed (and indeed rural communities have changed) so have travel patterns. I'm sure in 1950 Old Warden and its tenants were all employed on the estate and car ownership was low. The reality in 2011 is that few people are employed on the estate and that most residents are probably wealthy city types who like the country lifestyle. Across Bedfordshire that story is repeated in several villages where houses now cost significantly more than their equivilents in towns like Biggleswade or Sandy. This change between village and urban locations has seen a decline in rural buses as well as rural shops and pubs. To replicate the flexibility of a car you need frequent buses to everywhere via everywhere all the time, that doesnt come cheap and in the face of huge spending cuts cannot be delivered.

According to census data 275 people live in Old Warden, providing an hourly bus to Shefford and Biggleswade with peak service would cost I'd say in the region of £100-200k per annum, more if it ran late and on Sundays. Hourly services are not particularly attractive for those with a choice of modes, so do you up the service to half hourly, every 10 minutes?  You have to be sensible about transport provision. As I said before if you take a logical route to provide an attractive service to the majority of people, Old Warden is not on route to anywhere. If I left Biggleswade to go to Bedford it would never be via Old Warden. Diverting buses uses extra resources and irritates the majority of passengers making the journey. Compare Old Warden with Moggerhanger which is slightly larger but by fortune of being on the A603 enjoys a 30 min frequency to Bedford, Sandy & Biggleswade for most of the day. This is the logical route one would expect to take to Bedford. Old Warden is not even on a logical route to Southill, it involves quite a detour out of the way as the old 179 used to do.

The Leisurelink network was marketed quite widely in the late 1980's and early 1990's, including an explorer ticket which was valid in several counties for a time which included a Sunday bus from Old Warden to Cambridge via Biggleswade & Wimpole. They all died out one by one because they were not economic. Yes it is nice to cater for tourist attractions but when providing the service costs a subsidy of £50 a passenger, you have to ask if it is worth it. If somebody wants to get to Old Warden get a train to Biggleswade and get a taxi. A better result for the taxpayers than running an empty bus. The same applied to the Wrest Park diversion on the X1 service, never carried anybody to or from Wrest Park.

It is a shame that CBC have inherited a mess, what is bad is not that postcard places like Old Warden lose out, but that people in Sandy, Biggleswade and other large settlements are losing out on quality services whilst buses run to rural hamlets with no passengers on board, or whilst services duplicate other bits of route for no real reason. I've long harped on about why the E7 has a Friday shopping journey that duplicates the route of a Tesco free bus service, or why we even subsidise buses to Tesco in Baldock when Biggleswade has two large supermarkets in the town, plus 3 smaller supermarkets and other shops.
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Godfrey Willis
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 07:40:45 PM »

John _ WE  need people like you, BABUS has prepared a list of local proposals for the Biggeswade area which are much along the lines you talk about. Can you get in touch with me on 01234 823811.? Thanks
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2011, 09:46:21 PM »

Well if John wants some real life stories here goes.

When I was 14 I came across a wadge of publicity for London Transport, which then covered much of the Home Counties as well as London itself. It was this that has stimulated my lifelong use of public transport for leisure (and other) purposes. The cost of the publicity was (in terms of today's prices) perhaps a pound or so; the return over the years would be well into 5 figures. The public transport system would only need a few "hits" like me to cover the full costs of its publicity.

This happened to me purely by accident, which suggests that there are many people who might be like me if, say, London Transport had targeted schools for publicity. However, if I'd been a few years younger then when I reached the age at which I was ready to explore the world for myself I would not have been in a position to see this publicity because buses in the Home Counties would have been hived off. I believe that this was one of the greatest disasters for the
area.

It is, however, impossible to market a service if one doesn't provide it. Central Bedfordshire, and other unitary and shire county authorities, are education as well as transport authorities. Why are they corrupting our children by failing to show them how the countryside can be enjoyed without pollution machines ? Children aren't going to pay taxi fares -- they are going to suffer what in the latest CPRE newsletter an author calls "nature deficit disorder" until they can afford a car, after which they will be contributing to the destruction of rural tranquillity.

If Zurich canton can manage a 19% modal share for public transport in its remotest village I don't see why we can't, and I deplore the defeatism which now seems to have spread from politicians to those who purport to be speaking up for bus users.
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Suzy Scott
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2011, 10:27:18 PM »

http://www.hertsdirect.org/envroads/roadstrans/publictransport/busesandtrains/buschange/
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Suzy Scott
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John Hammond
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2011, 10:35:23 PM »

But people don't allow their children to have such freedom anymore, that is painfully obvious. Society has changed quite radically even in my fairly short lifetime. I made my first bus journeys alone around the age of 12, and would often head out places by bus on my own.  Do parents let children of 12 do that now? I find it very unlikely that they do, because many rightly or wrongly believe over hyped media stories about the dangers lurking in the big bad world to children.

I agree that to market it something it needs to be provided, but with a reality check. How much subsidy does the Zurich system require? In my experience outside of large towns and cities across Europe, most rural transport is actually very poor. And what is the social standing of those villages, are they rural communities like Britain in the 1950's or is it like rural Britain in the 2010's where people seek the rural lifestyle to escape, and then complain that they don't have the facilities or services they had in a large town or city. These are often the sort of people who wouldn't use a bus anyway unless it was a last resort. I'm sure in some rural villages buses have a 19% or + share as I said, simply by location some villages do better than others. Potton has 4x the population of Great Barford or Roxton, yet the latter pair enjoys a 7 day a week 30 min service to Bedford & Cambridge because of its location.  

Even if the state takes total control and halves the 8-10% profit margin, a new bus in all day service 6 days a week will cost in the region of £70-80k to operate with operating costs, fuel, tax, driver etc.  

The push for better buses has to be at a national level and at a local level the priority is to deliver the best services for the majority of people in the best possible way. Leisure travel is less of a priority than getting people to work, education and essential facilities (shops, post offices, doctors etc) particularly as I've said, the trend of services to such places has seen a steady decrease in passenger numbers over the years.
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John Hammond
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2011, 09:28:03 PM »

Further cuts have been announced in neighbouring counties which affect the C.B.C and L.B.C areas, these are shown below:

Herts CC have pulled the plug on the 343 between St Albans & Dunstable. This service between April and September extends through to Whipsnade.

Bucks CC are consulting on a blanket end to evening and Sunday supported bus services, this would affect the Sunday only 161 from Aylesbury to Whipsnade via Eaton Bray depriving Whipsnade of another service on Sundays.
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2011, 01:13:34 AM »

No I suspect that children don't go by bus on their own because they've never got into the habit of going by bus with their car dependent parents. But if parents are really preventing 14 year old children from going out on their own they should be reported to the NSPCC for cruelty in stunting their children's development.

The subsidy per journey in Zurich is less than in London or Manchester, and not even political parties dedicated to the free market would dream of cutting it.
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