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Author Topic: Central Beds Cuts - an alternative view  (Read 464 times)
Louter Langford
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« on: March 31, 2017, 05:33:19 PM »

I want to compliment Simon Norton for his excellent article in BABUS Newsletter 32. There's a great deal of detail in it worth thinking about and discussing. In this post don't want to comment in great detail but here is just some additional things thing I'd like to add to Simon's excellent points.

Firstly, the big problem I've found with Central Beds councillors over the many years I've dealt with them is that they're totally wedded to their private cars. I can't recall the last time I saw a Central Beds councillor actually use a bus in my part of the area. To councillors, buses (and local public transport generally) are just things that other people use, the detail of which is of no interest to councillors. So when it comes to discussing and voting in council about public transport it's just the blind leading the blind and the only thing in practice the average councillor sees, and votes for, is £££ and savings which cutting support can bring. Councillors get very generous allowances for using their cars and there's never any suggestion they might occasionally use public transport for the odd journey. Until someone wakes up to this situation, it's unlikely the council will ever be motivated to improve public transport.

My second point is about air pollution and the effect on health. It's well established that motor vehicles significantly pollute the air with serious consequences to health. I've suggested to Central Beds on several occasions that they take a look at a number of options. For example, why not open more park & ride services in urban areas? Stop allowing private cars into the centre, apart from essentials such as local residents and disabled people. Everyone else should either walk, cycle or use park & ride with a bus taking them into the centre. Also, why not do something about children going to school? Unless they live far away, children should normally either walk or cycle to school. Find an effective way of discouraging the mass congestion that occurs at many schools at drop off / collection time causing potential road dangers. How about more "walking buses" to help children reaching school safely? If nothing else, it might help to improve their health and combat obesity.
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Louter Langford
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 07:30:22 PM »

... why not do something about children going to school? Unless they live far away, children should normally either walk or cycle to school. Find an effective way of discouraging the mass congestion that occurs at many schools at drop off / collection time causing potential road dangers. How about more "walking buses" to help children reaching school safely? If nothing else, it might help to improve their health and combat obesity.
Here's an example of what Hackney Council is doing about the problem:
http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/london-parents-could-face-ban-on-taking-kids-to-school-by-car-a3511486.html
Why doesn't Central Beds consider doing something similar its area?
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Louter Langford
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2017, 08:45:41 AM »

Since posting this thread I've read The Rural Services Network's comment on the Buses Bill
http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/analysis/the-buses-bill-whats-in-it-for-rural-services
At present I can't see Central Beds taking any positive action permitted by the Bill and I particularly notice the comment added by Michael Burt:
The Major problem is that the people making the decisions on Bus matters are usually the people with cars probably getting expenses when they use them. They have no understanding of how people without cars manage to travel ,and the amount of time it takes to attend a hospital appointment some 30 or 40 miles away. The truth is they probably don't care either.
This is exactly the situation that I suggest applies in Central Beds Council.

The BABUS website shows little sign of it being updated since 25 March 2017 and the bulletin board seems to be barely carrying any traffic. Are most people in this area surrendering to the continuing dismemberment of public transport and joining Central Beds councillors in cars?
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2017, 06:56:29 PM »

I have just noticed that the National Trust dovecote and stables at Willington, which until recently were only open by appointment, are now open on the last Sunday of the month -- just as Willington, which isn't even in Central Beds, has lost its Sunday service as a result of their cuts. Fortunately there's a public footpath from the Norse Road roundabout near where there's an X5 stop, and one can also walk along the riverside past the Danish Camp visitor centre to Great Barford.

However this has suggested to me -- and I plan to suggest to the operator of the John Bunyan boat -- that there might be a market for a monthly boat trip to this area from Bedford to enable people to see the dovecote and stables.

I have also amended my previous proposals for a more efficient Sunday bus network, as communicated to BABUS committee members. My previous network required 4 vehicles, as against the 3 that have hitherto been needed for the Sunday services from Bedford to Biggleswade, Hitchin and Luton. This reduces this to 3, and should be taken in combination with the plan to increase Sunday stopping trains on the East Coast Main Line to half hourly when the Thameslink project is complete.

1. Luton-Bedford diverted via Streatley and Sharpenhoe south of Barton, and via Flitton, Greenfield, Flitwick, Ampthill and Houghton Conquest between Silsoe and Wilstead.

2. New route to run from Bedford to Cardington, Cople, Willington, Moggerhanger, Sandy roundabout, one way loop via Beeston and Sandy Tesco, station and market square, Northill, Ickwell, Shuttleworth car park, then one way loop via Old Warden, Shefford, Clifton, Arlesey station (west side -- I trust this is OK for buses), Henlow Camp, Henlow, Langford, Biggleswade and Upper Caldecote to Shuttleworth and back as above to Sandy and Bedford.

The one way loops are of course intended to avoid any need for right turns to/from the A1 except at existing roundabouts.

As compared with the network as it ran till last week, 8 villages would gain a service and 5 would lose one. Improved access would be provided to 4 places of interest shown as such on the OS map (Sharpenhoe Clappers, Flitton Mausoleum, Houghton House, the Shuttleworth complex) as well as Wrest Park and Willington Dovecote which had a service until last week. Of these, Flitton and Willington are currently only open on Sundays.
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Frances Horwood
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2017, 04:13:12 PM »

Simon, I was interested to see your mention of Willington Dovecote: I picked up a leaflet about it some time ago and was intending to suggest to you, when I saw you, that it would be worth arranging a visit.  The leaflet says "last Sunday of the month or by appointment"  so they would seem to be prepared to open it at other times for groups.  I appreciate that some people might be able to use the X5 to visit it on a Sunday but this would not be possible for anyone needing to catch another bus in order to travel by the X5, if the other service is infrequent or the last bus is very early - or if their local route has no service on a Sunday.
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2017, 10:01:31 PM »

Well if you arrange something I'll publicise it among my contacts in London, Cambridge and Peterborough as I did the Kimbolton visit. Perhaps it could follow on from our AGM ?

I also emailed the people who run the John Bunyan boat to ask if they might be interested in running to somewhere like Danish Camp to fit in with when the dovecote was open. There's also the other boat based at the Danish Camp itself but of course it would have to do 2 trips to provide for people coming in (and it can only take 12 people).
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Louter Langford
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2017, 11:53:25 PM »

I also emailed the people who run the John Bunyan boat to ask if they might be interested in running to somewhere like Danish Camp to fit in with when the dovecote was open. There's also the other boat based at the Danish Camp itself but of course it would have to do 2 trips to provide for people coming in (and it can only take 12 people).
I think it's unlikely that the John Bunyan boat can fit in a trip to Danish Camp on a Sunday. To get to Danish Camp means going through several locks which will take significant time. If you look at their Sunday programme http://www.johnbunyanboat.org/book-a-public-cruise/sunday-cruises/ they have public cruises that day.
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Louter Langford
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« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2017, 12:08:13 AM »

I have also amended my previous proposals for a more efficient Sunday bus network, as communicated to BABUS committee members. My previous network required 4 vehicles, as against the 3 that have hitherto been needed for the Sunday services from Bedford to Biggleswade, Hitchin and Luton. This reduces this to 3, and should be taken in combination with the plan to increase Sunday stopping trains on the East Coast Main Line to half hourly when the Thameslink project is complete.
Good luck with the proposals.

You may be interested in a chat I had today with a local resident. He complained to Central Beds Council about the total withdrawal of pretty much all Sunday bus services in the Biggleswade - Shefford area due to CBC no longer supporting them. He drew their attention to the only local bus service 85/85A still operating around Biggleswade on Sundays. CBC confirmed that they are not supporting these services either. However, they claim the reason there is still a Sunday service is due to financial support coming from local retailers. I wasn't aware of this option - are you? Maybe BABUS should approach local business organisations to suggest they chip in to support a Sunday service. For example Willington has at least two garden centres as well as the Danish Camp. As local authorities are gradually abandoning support for any public transport maybe this is a way forward?
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Simon Norton
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2017, 08:14:23 PM »

A minor improvement soon -- the 29 Berkhamsted-Jockey End-Hemel Hempstead will be diverted via Studham. This will mean that one can rely on the morning connection from Berkhamsted to Dunstable.

To offset that the commuter journeys are being taken off.
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