Devon County Council Bus cuts

During the 12 week consultation period on proposed bus service cuts planned by Devon County Council I signed a Change petition on calling on DCC to:
– Withdraw proposals which affect travel to and from education and work and reconsider those which affect a high number of passengers and services.
– Talk to bus operators about the viability of their whole business as a result of the proposed cuts and work with bus operators to plan cost effective changes – increase passenger numbers or plan alternative routes and timetables in consultation with communities.
– Invest in priority measures which make the bus a more attractive and faster option for travellers. This can include more bus lanes, which operate for longer, and priority signalling. Such measures make services more commercially viable.
– Invest in more community run bus services, such as Bob the Bus in Totnes. These services can be more flexible and feed into the main bus network.

On Friday I received an update:

Devon County Council was overwhelmed by the huge response to proposed £1,762m a year cuts to the Public Transport budget. The Council received some 2,600 questionnaire responses, numerous letters and petitions, of which one of the largest this one organised by Exeter Green Party, backed by 379 people. The public’s response to Devon County Council’s proposed cuts which has resulted in a reduction to some of the proposed cuts.

However, while there has been a brake on some of the service cuts, the revised plans still have a significant impact on communities, affecting 170,000 passenger journeys across Devon and here in Exeter. It’s a great relief the cut to the evening service for the P bus is no longer proposed. But other services in Exeter are still affected. We are especially concerned the Council plans to continue slashing school bus services, such as the one which takes children to the Stoke Hill schools, and other City service reductions will only add to congestion in Exeter.

Exeter Green Party have especially campaigned against the cuts to City services. We welcome the news that the planned withdrawal of the P evening service is now proposed for continuation and that free concessionary travel after 11pm at night will continue.

However, the proposals will see reductions across the City. These include a reduction to withdrawal of the frequency of the D service during University Vacations. However, Stagecoach have now agreed to operate a half-hourly frequency on Saturday’s on a commercial basis.

Plans to withdraw the T service from Countess Wear to Topsham Quay have been changed to recommend a shopping-time service (0930 out; 1230 back from City Centre) on an interim basis. The U service is proposed to be reduced to three journeys giving a morning shopping service and the M to retain two journeys. The Council hopes a community transport replacement service will be developed for the T and the U/M services.

These proposed cuts are a result of the austerity measures already proposed by the last Government. It is deeply worrying that the new conservative Government has already begun a further assault on funding to Local Authorities. Devon County Council’s report on the revised cuts itself shows how older people, young people and people with disabilities really rely on such services. As the report pointed out reducing bus services would increase traffic levels and carbon emissions too. We need investment in our transport infrastructure here in Exeter to support our most vulnerable, reduce congestion and address the City’s ongoing pollution problem.

You can find the Report on the Consultation the report to Cabinet and the details of the proposed cuts here https://new.devon.gov.uk/publictransportbudget/

What happens next?

The report is being considered by Devon County Council’s Cabinet next week after which it will be referred to a Scrutiny committee to examine the plans before going back to the Cabinet again who will make the final decision.

While the proposals have been reigned back the proposals still contain significant cuts and the Council have already agreed a cut to the budget, so – so we must keep up the pressure on the Council to let them know that we’re not happy with their plans and see if we can secure a further climb down before the report completes this process.

What you can do:
Come along to County Hall before the Cabinet or Scrutiny meetings, bring your friends and a placard to send a message to the Council. Join me outside or attend the meeting. The dates and times are:

Cabinet Wednesday 10th June 10:30am – the item is first on the agenda. Be there for 10:00am outside County Hall.

Place Scrutiny Committee: 2pm 17th June – meet outside at 2:00

Cabinet Meeting Wednesday 8th July 10:30 – meet outside at 10am

Write or ring your local County Councillor and let them know you’re not happy with the report and the affect of the cuts. You can find out who your local Councillor is here: https://new.devon.gov.uk/democracy/councillor/

E&E | Passenger pleas save the P bus

Express and Echo

 

Thursday 04 June 2015

Passenger pleas save the P bus
by Anne Byrne

Appeals to save an Exeter evening bus service have been successful. It is recommended that the evening P bus will continue, and there has been a partial reprieve for the T service – which runs between Exeter and Topsham Quay – which was threatened with being withdrawn complete;y.

Devon County Council held a public consultation on bus services in the spring as it sought to shave £1.7m from its budget.

Recommendations going to Devon County Council’s Cabinet next week include keeping the P bus running in the evening,

Screen shot 2015-06-02 at 14.46.52

and in the interim running a curtailed T service in the morning.

The T is recommended to run as a ‘shopping time service’ – 9.30am out, 12.30 back from the city centre pending a possible community transport replacement service being found.

Recommendation to retain evening services on the P bus

I have just seen on the Devon County Council website the recommendations going to DCC Cabinet on 10 June  –  including the one that the evening service will remain for the P bus – is welcome news and testament to the work that I and many others have done to promote Passenger Power in Cowick, and elsewhere.

Throughout the 12 week consultation period of DCC’s Public Transport Review,  I – along with my fellow Labour councillors and volunteers – tried to generate when asking residents to respond to DCC’s public transport review.

passengerpower-logo-624x440We spoke and wrote to many residents as well as delivering by hand hundreds of leaflets in Cowick letting them know about the consultation, and making sure they didn’t miss the bus/

It seems those contributions helped save the service.

At first I had concerns over the exact wording of the recommendation for the P bus – “The evening service in its entirety is proposed for continuation within the recommended revised evening service support criterion”  – thinking this might mean the proposed reduced service on Sundays and Bank Holidays would be implemented.

I certainly asked for the Sunday service on the route of the P to be considered alongside the evening service.

I have had confirmation from transport officers at DCC that the recommendation – if approved – would mean that the P bus would continue to run to the current timetable.

This is good news, but I am still aware that there are still serious flaws with the public transport service for Cowick, and this is certainly not the end of the Cowick Deserves Better Buses campaign

#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.