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.