Cowick Deserves Better Buses | Our follow-up meeting with Stagecoach SW

In June we held a public meeting at St Thomas Baptist Church as part of our Cowick Deserves Better Buses  campaign to try and make the buses in the ward serve the needs of the community and residents – indeed, be a public transport system again. We were fortunate to have Robert Williams, the recently appointed Commercial Director for Stagecoach, join us.

As we pointed out at the meeting, one of the problems regarding bus services in Exeter is that they are run as a commercial enterprise by Stagecoach SW , with only a limited number of (mainly evening services) being subsidised by Devon County Council. Indeed the P service only runs in the evenings and on Sundays with financial support from DCC.

So, despite popular belief, So,  councillors at both Exeter City and Devon County Councillors have little or no say in the routes that Stagecoach SW run.

The overwhelming feeling from that meeting was in agreement  with a  suggested route  along Buddle Lane and re-routing one of the Exwick buses down Okehampton Street. These proposals reflect some of the ideas that I had come to and of those I spoke to on my mobile “bus surgeries”

I have had discussions with officers at DCC about the possibility of using subsidy to support this changes of the – but financial constraints means that they cannot even look at this possibility at the moment.

Cllr Morris and I also pushed for a follow-up meeting with Mr Williams and the even-more recently appointed Managing Director of Stagecoach SW, Mike Watson.

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing over dates, the meeting finally took place last week.

When the changes were made to the P/E/F1/F2 routes in 2006, the outcome was little change to passsengr numbers on the Cowick route yet there was a significant increase in passenger numbers on the Exwick routes.

They also suggested that there was no general public outcry at the time of the changes, and hinted that perhaps that they might have taken different decisions if there had been.

The Stagecoach management team have agreed to go away and look at the current figures in more depth and we hope to reconvene in a couple of weeks time, although I’m certainly not promising that they will come back with a favourable outcome.

 

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[P Bus route] Follow-up to “Better Buses for Cowick” public meeting in June 2013

It’s probably time for an update following the Better Buses for Cowick public meeting held at St Thomas Baptist Church back in June.

One of the problems regarding bus services in Exeter is that they are run as a commercial enterprise by Stagecoach SW. That means  councillors at both Exeter City and Devon County Councillors have little or no say in the routes that Stagecoach SW run.

DCC do subsidise a limited number routes – and  the P route  only runs in the evenings and on Sundays with this financial support from DCC, as Stagecoach say they cannot operate these services at a profit.

There was  overwhelming agreement  with a suggested route  along Buddle Lane and re-routing one of the Exwick buses down Okehampton Street.

I’ve spoken with officers at DCC about the possibility of using subsidy to support the changes of the route you suggest – but financial constraints means that they cannot even look at this possibility at the moment.

Another of the hopes from our public meeting in June at St Thomas Baptist Church on our campaign to try and deliver Better Buses for Cowick  was to have a follow-up meeting with Robert Williams, the recently appointed Commercial Director for Stagecoach SW and the even more recently appointed Managing Director of Stagecoach SW, Mike Watson.

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing over dates, the meeting finally took place last week.

When alterations were made to the P/E/F1/F2 routes back in 2006, the Stagecoach SW senior managers pointed out  there was no general public outcry at the time of the changes. They also point out that the outcome was little change to passenger numbers on the Cowick route yet there was a significant increase in passenger numbers on the Exwick routes, so they are reluctant to make any changes to the routes at present.

They have agreed to go away and look at the current figures in more depth and we hope to reconvene in a couple of weeks time, although I’m certainly not promising that they will come back with an anymore favourable outcome.

I’m sorry that this still hasn’t been resolved as yet, but I and my Labour colleagues have not let the matter drop

E&E | Councillors seek meeting with Stagecoach over problem bus route

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07 September 2013

Councillors seek meeting with Stagecoach over problem bus route

LOCAL councillors Heather Morris and Paul Bull are trying to secure a date for a meeting with Stagecoach’s new managing director within the next fortnight to discuss the P bus route and the problems that residents have been experiencing.

The problem has been ongoing for several years with residents unhappy that there is no direct bus from the top of Dunsford Road to the doctors’ surgery in Cowick Street.

However, following a public meeting in June organised by the councillors and which more than 75 residents attended, they have told Community News that they would like to reassure residents that they are continuing to try to find a solution that would benefit the majority.

E&E Community News | Cowick Bus Timetables

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11 July May 2013

COMMUNITY NEWS | Cowick

WARD councillor Paul Bull believes he has come up with a solution for those living at the top of Cowick who need a bus to get them to the doctors’ surgery in Cowick Street.

He has discovered that several bus operators – Western Greyhound, Dartline and Country Bus – stop close to Crossmead Villas.

PB with the unhelpful bus timetable at Crossmead Villas
PB with the unhelpful bus timetable at Crossmead Villas

Cllr Bull said: “At the recent public meeting regarding bus routes around Cowick, it was pointed out that many buses from outside Exeter travel directly down Dunsford Road and on to Cowick Street.

“Many residents in and around Sylvan Heights, Barley Lane, Exonia Park and the top end of Dunsford Road do not consider using these services which stop at Crossmead Villas and choose to use the Stagecoach P route, and so they think they do not have a direct route to the surgery on Cowick Street.

“Indeed, they are often pressing Stagecoach to deliver an hourly route down Dunsford Road. This already exists in the form of the WG 510.

“However, since this service doesn’t receive Devon County Council funding, there seems to be little desire to display a timetable.

“This is disappointing since WG 510 has a daily service of 10 in-bound buses, which equals the total provided by DL 360 (five a day) and CB 359 (also five a day). Also WG provide the 599 which has two buses a day.”

The solution, according to Cllr Bull, is to use a simplified listing at the bus stop of all the buses that stop at Crossmead Villas.

He said: “In-bound I make the timetable:

0755 DL 360,
0807 CB359,
0800 WG 510,
0908 WG510,
1005 DL360,
1008 WG510,
1008 WG599,
1022 CB359,
1108 WG510,
1208 WG510,
1230 WG599,
1308 WG510,
1243 DL360,
1252 CB359,
1408 WG510,
1438 DL360,
1452 CB359,
1528 DL360,
1608 WG510,
1652 CB359,
1713 WG510,
1808 WG510.

PB with his version of the bus timetable at Crossmead Villas
PB with his version of the bus timetable at Crossmead Villas

Cllr Bull believes providing a simple listing is much more user-friendly, and would encourage a bigger take-up of these buses by passengers.

PB with one of the many buses that stop at Crossmead Villas
PB with one of the many buses that stop at Crossmead Villas

Cowick Deserves Better Buses | Timetable at Crossmead Villas

Yesterday I and fellow councillors organised a public meeting calling for better buses to serve Cowck.

The meeting understandably concentrated on the route of the P service and trying to think of a way for to get local residents  to the GP surgery nearest to the ward – St Thomas Health Centre on Cowick Street.

Bu the P isn’t the only route that runs through Cowick – there are a number of routes  originating outside of Exeter that travel along Dunsfrod Road to the Last & Last and beyond.

If I git my fact right,  these are:

82 – Darline

359 – Country Bus

360 – Dartline

which I beleive are funded by DCC

and 2 routes operated by Western Greyhound routes  – which do not receive DCC funding.

All of these stop at Crossmead Villas, close to the junction of Dunsford Road and Barley Lane.

And the trouble is the timetables at this bus are not really user friendly

DUNSFORD ROAD Bus stop 01 [20 May 12]
Timetable at the Crossmead Villas bus stop
They are the full timetables,  listing the start of the journey form places far, far away, mention stage timings along the route, yet make little reference to the times when a bus might stop at Crossmead Villas.

And that’s if you can actually read them – the type is in an extremely small font. I certainly need my reading glasses.

What is actually needed here is just a list of times when a bus is due at the bus stop. In large type.

Surely that is possible to arrange?

And probably it is easy to arrange?

All we need now is the will to arrange!

Cowick Deserves Better Buses | A public meeting

Cowick’s Labour Councillors – now boosted by new Devon Councillor, Roy Hill – have been running the Cowick Deserves Better Buses campaign for many months, but the problems about the route of Stagecoach’s P Bus have long been raised on the doorstep.

We’ve sent far too many e-mails to senior Stagecoach management, even met them on occasion, but we weren’t sure that they were really getting it.

There are many concerns about the service, but the overwhelming concern is that the bus service at serves Cowick goes nowhere near the doctors’ surgery that serves Cowick.

So we held a public meeting, held earlier today. over 70 people turned up, and heard from Cllr Heather Morris, Cllr Roy Hill and myself as well as Robert Williams, Commercial Director of Stagecoach SW.

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Cowick Deserves Better Buses public meeting

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Here’s what I said to the lively crowd.
For the past 2 and a half years, Cllr Heather Morris and myself have been listening to your views on the route of the P bus.

There are many issues.

Fares

Reliability

Congestion, often caused by buses, at the First & Last junction

Early arrival at Crossmead terminus – meaning passengers on Bowhay Lane either have to be at the stop extremely early or risk missing the bus

Many, many more.

But the one issue being raised above all others was the route of the P bus

Our first thoughts were that you needed a quicker service to the city centre for those living close to Sylvan Heights.

Someone once told me that the current service “goes round the moon” to get to the centre.

But your views have highlighted that there is a much more serious problem for the majority of residents in this our ward of Cowick.

You need to get to your nearest doctor’s surgery – the health centre on Cowick Street – and the bus service serving Cowick currently goes nowhere near it.

The public transport service isn’t serving the public of Cowick.

It’s easier – and probably quicker – to use the P bus to get to the health centre on Mount Pleasant Road the other side of Sidwell Street than it is to get to YOUR doctor.

You have to get 2 buses, with a change at St Thomas Shopping Precinct

Stagecoach have told us that the majority of passengers trying to get to see their doctor hold a bus pass, so it doesn’t cost them any more to use the 2 buses.

But because of that move, Stagecoach has twice as many journeys from you – journeys that they get payment for from Devon County Council.

However, that doesn’t help the young mums with buggies, those that have mobility issues. Its bad enough catching one bus, let alone two.

And all that additional hassle if its raining…

Many of you have seen me on the P bus – and I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to some of you.

At times you’ve thought I work for Stagecoach. No, I work for you.

Listening to you, I now know that it is this issue above all else that concerns you.

I know – by making that journey myself – that it takes over 25 minutes to make the journey of less than a mile.

And that if you choose to make the journey by car, you are often caught in a traffic jam, often caused by buses at the First and Last.

That’s ironic isn’t it? Bus passengers from Alphington and Exwick have better public transport to your doctor’s surgery that you do. The patients that live closest, and probably use the heath centre.

How many of the passengers on the A, E, F1 and F2 get off to walk to see your doctor.

I would like to see the route of the P changed so that at least one an hour travels along Cowick Street.

That still won’t get you to the High Street any quicker  – that’s probably a question for another day – but will make it easier to see your own GP.

Thank you

The meeting went on to debate the many issues surrounding the service. Some of them are here on the flip charts

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So lots of issues, and now the conversations begin in ernest. We’ll do our best to keep you informed.

Cowick Deserves Better Buses | Some alternative bus routes through Cowick?

Ahead of our Cowick Deserves Better Buses meeting, a local resident (and transport expert) has suggested some alternative bus routes through Cowick

Suggestion One – P and C.
An alternative route structure that would give a 30min interval on two routes serving Crossmeads and High Meadows.

P – Pennsylvania to High Meadows via Okehampton and Isleworth Roads

C – Pennsylvania to Crossmead via Cowick Street and Dunford Hill

It might be possible to construct a timetable where the P to High Meadows via Okehampton Road becomes the C form Crossmeads via Cowick Street (and visa versa) and so continue to run round the High Meadows/Barley Lane loop. This would provide a 15min interval service to Pennsylvania. The hourly evening and Sunday service (P/C) could run round the whole loop – Okehampton, Isleworth Road, High Meadows, Crossmeads and Cowick St.

This would require one extra bus to cover the two routes. This would also return the capacity on the route(s) to the original level now that smaller buses seem to have been introduced.

Example timetable:

Location Present Route Location New Route
Crossmeads 10.00 P Crossmeads 10.00 C
Crossmeads 10.20 P High Meadows 10.15 P
Crossmeads 10.40 P Crossmeads 10.30 C
Crossmeads 11.00 P High Meadows 10.45 P
Crossmeads 11.20 P Crossmeads 11.00 C
High Meadows 11.15 P
4 Buses   5 Buses  

Suggestion Two – P, C and H.
What are the P loadings like on the Pennsylvania side of town? If they do not warrant a 15min interval this may provide an answer.

Maintain the P bus to High Meadows via Okehampton Road (as per the original P route) at a 30min interval.

Introduce a new C service, also at a 30min interval from Crossmead to via Cowick Street and Queen Street to St David’s Station. This would improve the frequency of buses contacting the city centre to its principle station (the present H not being well timed for many trains) and provide new access to St David’s form the St Thomas side of town.

Ideally these routes (P and C) would be at 20min intervals. The new C could also provide a connection from the proposed new and more remote bus station and St David’s Station. Indeed if the new C ran every 15mins, and slotted between the H service, it would provide a very respectable 7-8 interval between the city centre and St David’s Station.