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Gloucestershire bus routes to go

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: September 14, 2009

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Bus routes in Gloucestershire are set to go as county officials make tough decisions over subsidies.

A county council spokeswoman said that shrinking budgets and pressures increasing, the council had to "prioritise its public transport spending".

"Focussing on the most essential and well-used bus services is now a priority but this means less-used services or those that are duplicated will have to be withdrawn," she said.

"These changes are difficult, but in the current financial climate there is no other option."

The council will be reviewing services across the county over the next year and to start the process there will be changes to subsidised buses in Cheltenham.

Some services, which have low passenger numbers or duplicate another service, will be withdrawn or reduced and others will be improved to accommodate need.

Gloucestershire County Council puts £100,000 a year into Cheltenham Community Transport to ensure that elderly people and those with mobility problems have access to services.

In addition to this, the council is planning to run a pilot community transport project to give residents of Sunnyfield Lane and parts of the Benhall Estate access to the local supermarket, library and doctors’ surgery.

The changes are:

* Withdrawing Service K (Cheltenham town centre to Up Hatherley and Warden Hill) completely. Residents living along this route can use Service D (every 10 minutes from town centre to Up Hatherley and Warden Hill). There is also Service 97/98 every half and hour from Cheltenham to Gloucester and Service 94u (again half hourly) from

* The Park Campus to Gloucester and Cheltenham town centres. Withdrawing Service J (Cheltenham town centre to Benhall estate) completely. Residents living along this route can use Service 94 (every 10 minutes) along the A40 from Gloucester to Cheltenham.

* Introducing a more regular timetable for Service N (Cheltenham town centre to Prestbury), with a service every half hour throughout the day to increase its viability. This does mean that residents of Cleevemount estate will no longer have Service W. Residents living here can still catch the Service N from Prestbury Road or use Stagecoach’s Service A.

* Withdrawing the evening journeys for Service H (Cheltenham town centre to Wymans Brook) after 7pm. This is due to very low levels of use.

* Reducing the frequency of Sunday services from hourly to two hourly on Services B (Cheltenham town centre to Charlton Kings), H (Cheltenham Town Centre to Wymans Brook), F (Cheltenham Town Centre to Leckhampton) and G (Cheltenham town centre to St Marks). Again this is due to low levels of use.

* Evening services to Charlton Kings Service B, which had originally been under threat of withdrawal, has been saved by integrating Service B with Service 41.

Councillor Stan Waddington, Cabinet member for environment, said: “We’ve had to take these difficult decisions to make the best use of council tax money.

“It’s no secret that our budgets are getting smaller and smaller so we have to prioritise our spending.

“We also need to focus on maintaining bus services when they are most needed, at times of the day when residents need to get to school, employment, shopping and health services.

“It’s not good use of taxpayers’ money to expect large buses to provide a direct, door to door service to residents who could be better provided for by our community transport.

“I have always said that I believe the national concessionary fares scheme should include community transport, but as it does not we are offering an additional subsidy for residents who used the K and J services to keep the cost to them as low as possible.”

If any residents are affected by these changes, and qualify for community transport, they can contact Cheltenham Community Transport on 01242 515388.

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    HunterGatherer, Stroud  |  September 16 2009, 11:44AM

    Unfortunately, Bern, that¿s not the way it works. No amount of ¿investing¿ in public transport whatever that means¿more buses? more routes? nicer bus shelters? real-time information systems?¿will get most drivers out of their cars. The only way to do that is to make car use less and less attractive by a combination of ¿ progressively reducing the amount of on-street and off-street parking while expanding out-of-town park-and-ride facilities ¿ providing continuous 24-hour bus/lorry lanes with junction signal priority (which also reduces the road capacity for cars) ¿ congestion charging ¿ investing in a network of footpath/cycleways built to the standard of the Honeybourne Line in Cheltenham ¿ exponentially increasing parking charges everywhere except at park-and-ride sites ¿ exponentially increasing the cost of petrol and diesel This is why the only area in the country where the car-owning middle classes use public transport is London. Mainly because there¿s no-where to park at the end of your journey or the cost is astronomical. And why most of the car-addicted middle classes move to rural areas like Gloucestershire to be able to live in remote villages and use and park their cars freely. Driving to Kemble to take the train to London and using public transport or a bike while there. Without car restaint and stopping OAPs travelling ¿free¿ I wouldn¿t spend an extra penny on buses. Neither of which is remotely likely since drivers and OAPs are also voters¿. Many of the subsidised bus services are just not useful or cost-effective. Money is spent subsidising infrequent and underused services (like the two-a-day service between Stroud and Amberley) at hours to suit only the unwaged, often using double-deckers. These should be replaced by subsidised taxis and car-shares, jitneys and paratransit services. It would be good to see Gloucestershire pioneering this sort of provision. At the same time ¿core¿ routes between significant centres of population not served by the railway are under-provided. ¿ the last bus back from Stroud to Cirencester leaves at 16:51 ¿ the last bus back from Cirencester to Stroud leaves at 17:36 making it almost impossible for someone living in either town without a car to take a low-pay job in the other. Or for people living in Cirencester to visit the cinema in Stroud by public transport of an evening. Meanwhile the Conservatives County Council manifesto at the last election proposed to introduce free on-street parking for the greenest cars. This is as wrong-headed as exempting ¿green¿ cars like the Toyota Prius from the London congestion charge. Parking and congestion charges are, among other things, about discouraging people from driving into town and encouraging them to walk, cycle, or take the bus or train. Free parking for green cars will just encourage wealthier people (the only people likely to be able to afford new, greener vehicles) to buy them and clog up the streets by driving them in.

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    Bern, Stroud  |  September 16 2009, 9:57AM

    The county council cutting services may mean difficult choices, yet common sense could prevail? Yes, we are living in hard economic times, but cutting public transport instead of investing in it, is only going to serve this county less, and make matters worse. No matter what hard choices need to be made at the current time, investment is actually the key. For companies, organisations and government bodies cutting back because of financial pressures, often leads to so much more damage being done, to themselves and everyone around them, than had they not done so. Making cuts is akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I¿ve witnessed numerous companies and organisations actually going under, purely as a result of making cuts, or costing themselves far more in the longer term, because they haven¿t any longer got the resources with which to operate viably any more. So the same goes with cutting public transport. Cutting transport cuts the lifeblood of this county, meaning it will cost us all dearly in the long term and we won¿t be able to function very well in future, if at all in rural locations! In short, it's all very simple really. If you invest by providing a cheap, regular and reliable service, along with a significant number of services each day, you reap the rewards in that people take it up and use it in their masses. It's an economic fact, proven time and time again by transport companies, and many more farsighted local authorities, who are prepared to take a risk and the initiative. As a business model it¿s been proven moreso in seemingly unfavourable economic climates ¿ people will always look for the most convenient and cheaper options ¿ but if they don¿t exist, they can't use what's there and everyone¿s the poorer ultimately. If you don't invest, and something is allowed to be run down, so all dies around it, and with that in this case, further inward investment, work opportunities for people as well as tourism, and so on. It really is common sense and very very simple for anyone to work out. Yet in this instance, we're playing with risk adverse commercial operators who only want to take the safe option and make an easy profit, and, of course, politicians with their own agenda, need I say more?

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    HunterGatherer, Stroud  |  September 16 2009, 8:59AM

    The basic problem is that making bus services ¿free¿ to the elderly¿the only people likely to use them and pay for them¿is madness. It encourages unnecessary journeys and, like all services which are free at the point of use, over-consumption. How many of these old biddies are taking the bus to the doctor¿s surgery to waste their time with their latest aches and pains? And get a ¿free¿ prescription to stop wasting more of the doctor¿s time. By all means offer fare reductions for the elderly on off-peak or low-demand services, but not ¿free¿ travel. Like on the railways where a Senior Railcard gives you one-third off ALL fares (including cheapo cheapo Advance fares) or on National Express coach services where the over-60s travel half-price. There is no such thing as ¿free¿ travel.

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    John, Glos City  |  September 15 2009, 10:23PM

    Understand the difficulty. Problems will arise when you take the hourly operating cost (bus) and divide this by times number of passengers (fares) But there are many interesting comparisons so often overlooked in the study.

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    Jackie, cheltenham  |  September 15 2009, 4:53PM

    Instead of scrapping bus services we need improvements to bus services particuaoly at in the evenings including sundays on a sunday buses stop at 6.45 life stil goes on, after this time ,people might want to go out and in this economic climate how many people can afford taxis i am looking at starting a campain to get better evening and sunday services if any one is intrested please contact me on 07837 395235 so we can get a petition organised and present it to martin horwood

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    locoman, stonehouse  |  September 15 2009, 4:21PM

    Ad Sum,the main theme of this story is that Gloucestershire County Council says that cuts will be made to subsidsed bus services in the county.i assume that The Royal Forest of Dean is still in Gloucestershire so foresters watch this space,you are a very rural part of the county so no doubt you will also notice a reduction in services.it only being talked about by councillors at the moment but before the real cuts are made F.O.D have already had a service reduction.no73 gloucester to chepstow not going beyond lydney,i gather a much reduced service will run from lydney to chepstow,but being paid for by GCC this will always be a service under threat of withdraw.use it or lose it.

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    rickinindia, Holidaying in iNDIA  |  September 15 2009, 4:05PM


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    anon, cheltenham  |  September 15 2009, 2:20PM

    Stagecoach say they have not got enough money to keep all these buses running, what a load of rubbish. How come then they have had the money to buy these new double decker gold buses, with lie back seats and televisions.

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    someone, Prestbury  |  September 15 2009, 2:20PM

    it's all very well telling 'W' users they can catch the 'N' on Prestbury Road - the 'N' doesn't go on Prestbury Road !

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    Hessen, Chelt.  |  September 15 2009, 12:14PM

    "It¿s no secret that our budgets are getting smaller and smaller.." Then surely a good way to address the situation, would be the culling of a Director or two, at the top of the Council.. A self evident solution really.. though clearly not in Cheltenham..?