#DontMissTheBus | Some more comments regarding #CowickPBus – from Walter Brown

I would like to thank Walter Brown for his most illuminating contributions to the Devon County Council Public Transport Review in the Leave a comment section

This is what he had to say on the P bus:

Walter Brown | 19 April 2015

P. Pennsylvania/Stoke Valley circle – Exeter High St – Bowhay Lane/Crossmead circle: evening service to be withdrawn..

It must be questioned whether strict application of the financial criteria is appropriate in respect of DCC-subsidised routes P, R and S in Exeter.

“P” serves areas that involve a substantial uphill walk from alternative routes, for some people at a distance of at least a mile (if not a little over). For most of the its catchment area, anyone having to go home on an alternative route will encounter a largely uphill walk of anything up to a mile or more.

This covers Pennsylvania, Crossmead, Barley Lane and the newer estate down to Bowhay Lane; also most of Stoke Valley, Isleworth Road, Dunsford Hill and Bowhay Lane itself. Only the lowest-lying parts of these last four sections can be reached without a significant uphill walk.

By contrast, “R” and “S” circular routes (High St – Rifford Rd – Burnthouse Lane – High St & vice versa) duplicate one another, and serve a largely level area by comparison. “S” route also duplicates other services, ie. “K” from High St along Topsham Road (running just a few minutes in front of the “K”), “D” and “H” to parts of Wonford, and other routes on the “S” inbound section from Heavitree Bridge via Heavitree.

If “S” were withdrawn instead of “P”, few people would be adversely affected. As mentioned, the other-way-round circular “R” covers the whole “S” route, just 15 mins or so earlier and later. (Both routes run half-hourly along the same roads).

To have applied standard cost ratios, irrespective of whether different areas are hilly or on level ground, is grossly unfair on residents who live anywhere that involves significant uphill walking after alighting from alternative routes, when their own route has been withdrawn. For disabled and elderly people, it is far more burdensome to have to walk some distance uphill, compared to the same distance on the level. (It can be either risky or impossible with some health conditions). DCC should recognise this as a fundamental flaw in its preparation of the standardised financial criteria chosen to determine the degree of bus cuts affecting different areas.

When considered in conjunction with the plenitude of evening buses on different routes in one fairly level part of the city, compared to the intended total lack of anything in some of the hilliest areas, withdrawal of “P” (if it still goes ahead) will result in much unnecessary hardship to many people.

#DontMissTheBus | @ExeterCouncil response to consultation on cuts to supported bus service

Exeter City Council, behalf of the Greater Exeter, Greater Devon districts, has responded to Devon County Council’s consultation on cuts to supported bus services.

There are paragraphs which relate to the route of the  P bus through Cowick.

3. Buses and the Economy

3.6 Crossmead, an outlying residential area of Exeter, including a new development of 80 homes at Sylvan Heights whose residents are dependent on the P service for their public transport, are set to lose their evening service (see further paragraph 8.1)

3.7 These changes will affect employers in the city with large numbers of staff working shifts, for example those finishing at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital who finish at 8pm and in many cases need to catch their homeward bus from the city centre. Unsurprisingly the hospital also employs staff who work on Sundays. The NHS is likely to experience increased patient travel costs, as patients are liable to be discharged in the evenings and on Sundays and the hospital pays for taxis to if people are unable to get home by other means.

3.11 Of the criteria listed in the consultation, which respondents are asked to rank, we would therefore place “travelling to work” at the top, with evening and Sunday services forming an integral part of that.

8. Potential solutions
8.1 While we are urging DCC to safeguard services as far as possible, in some cases it should be possible to consider imaginative solutions, such as those that we have seen from Upottery Parish Council for combining or otherwise rationalising services in their area, depending on whether or not Somerset CC continue to support sections of the routes concerned. This principle could be applied to other areas, for example in Exeter there may be scope for combining the evening service on the P, E and F services, into a route that serves the maximum number of homes, taking advantage the faster running times that are possible in the evening, and without requiring the additional vehicle currently needed for the P. DCC should work with District Councils and local councillors to explore such solutions.

9. Conclusions
9.1 In our submission, therefore, the public transport budget should be safeguarded, so that it can continue to
– provide access to jobs for those without them, and a wider range of employment opportunities with a variety of working patterns;
– provide access to services for all members of the population, in a context where service provision is becoming more centralised; and
– add value to the private and public sector capital investment taking place in the Greater Exeter area.

9.2 Where individuals, communities and/or councils have put forward workable suggestions for saving costs with less adverse impact on passengers, Devon County Council should work with them and the operators to achieve solutions.