Bringing #PassengerPower to the #CowickPBus

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At a meeting on 14 January 2015, DCC Cabinet considered a report of the Head of Services for Communities – SC/15/2 Public Transport Budget: Proposed Allocation which recommended that:
(a) that the proposed approach to reviewing current DCC funded bus services set out in section 4 is agreed;
(b) that the revised Public Transport budget allocation for 2015/16 is agreed;
(c) that the proposal for the Devon Community Transport fund is noted;
(d) that a public consultation on the measures necessary to meet those budget targets is launched in January 2015 

On 26 January 2015, Devon Newscentre issued a media release – Consultation underway on public transport service reductions – on the proposals to cut £1.7 million from its annual public transport budget over the next two financial years.

The proposals suggest withdrawing funding for some routes that currently receive DCC subsidy to run evening and/or Sunday services – included in this list is the P bus, that serves Cowick and Pennsylania.

So what is proposed?

Withdrawal of evening service (Mon – Sat):
– 2046 High Street – Pennsylvania; and
– 2056 Pennsylvania – Crossmead
meaning the final evening service to Crossmead would depart High Street at 2012
and the final service back to the city centre would depart Crossmead at 20:28

On Sundays and Public Holidays, the following services would be withdrawn:
– 1846 High Street – Pennsylvania; and
– 1856 Pennsylvania – Crossmead
meaning the final Sunday service to Crossmead would depart High Street at 1712
and the final service back to the city centre would depart Crossmead at 17:28

The accompanying notes suggest these proposals would affect around 17,500 one-way trips a year, giving an annual saving of £24,000.

To support their proposals, DCC carried out an Equalities Impact Assessment in November 2014, and notes:
2.1.2 Negative aspects
“…some communities are likely to have their last bus or public transport service withdrawn, and be left isolated for anyone who does not have access to a car.”

I have grave concerns about these proposals – they will increase social isolation of an elderly and ageing population (2nd highest of Exeter’s 18 wards) that also suffers from bad or very bad health (3rd highest) and where 1 in 4 households doesn’t own a car. (Key facts from 2011 census for Cowick).

There will NO parallel services – the nearest bus routes will be the E and F2 evening services running along Buddle Lane.

And many of the walking routes from Buddle Lane involve STEEP hills.

So it’s time to engage with passengers – to give them #PassengerPower.

I know for a fact that many residents of Cowick don’t or can’t use computers – yet all the consultation seems be be ON-LINE, so I am calling on DCC to place details of this consultation in St Thomas Library and other community buildings.

We need people to  become passengers – it’s time to USE IT OR LOSE IT

We need to get them to respond to the consultation!

We need you to tell DCC know what you think about the proposals.

You can take part in their consultation on the Public Transport Review website until Monday 20 April 2015.

The plan would be for any accepted proposals to come into effect in the second half of 2015.

Announcing #PassengerPower for the #CowickPBus

COWICK MEDIA RELEASE
27 January 2015 | For immediate release

We have been asked by the Express & Echo for some quotes to accompany an article on the proposal to withdraw evening and Sunday services on the P sroute.

Heather Morris, city councillor for Cowick, said:

“The Cowick Deserves a Better Bus Service campaign will be continuing and mounting, and Councillor Paul Bull has already said that he will be travelling on the P bus during the evenings to talk to residents about the review.

“We will be doing everything we can to ensure that residents in Cowick are aware of the proposal and encourage everyone to respond.

“Within hours of the announcement of the consultation we were contacted by a resident asking what his Council Tax for given that the street lights are switched off in Cowick at 12:30am, the roads are covered in potholes and Cowick’s current bus service fails to serve the needs of the community.

“It’s about time that the county council accepted that we live in a university city with a vibrant night time economy.”

Cllr Paul Bull

“Already the bus route that serves the Cowick community doesn’t allow residents to get to the GP surgery that serves that community:

“Speaking to residents at bus stops and on the buses, they tell us that the bus often doesn’t turn up when it should”

“And now this!”

“Isn’t it time that Stagecoach and DCC started to work with residents and communities to give them a real public transport system

“Cowick has the second highest population overt over 65s out of the 18 wards in the city – and the third highest of those that are in bad- or very-bad health”

“On top of that, 1 in 4 households – that’s 480 families – don’t own a car”

“Losing the evening bus service is a worrying trend and one that will make many elderly people, already isolated social, housebound in the evening”

“I am sure that many bright ideas might come forward during the 12 week consultation period – perhaps the hourly evening service starts earlier than it now does? Is there any chance of keeping the final last bus?”

“This is just the start – the team of Cllrs in Cowick will be speaking to you, and other agencies, to see what can be done”

“But most of all, use your voice in the consultation period. The more people that respond, the harder it will be for Devon County Council to be able to make a case to cut this essential link to the city centre.”

“We will need to motivate some Passenger Power – it’s going to be a case of use or lose it”

Pulling my finger out on the P bus through Cowick

I’ve been contacted by a a resident about a number of issues, including the recent announced consultation of public transport – containing the proposal to slash the evening services on the P route.

Please can you advise me as to what steps you are taking to stop the proposed cutting of the evening service on our P bus service. this is outlined in the following :-
https://new.devon.gov.uk/publictransportbudget/services/p/

We already have probably the worst and most useless service in the city. It still does not go to our health centre despite many complaints and you as our representatives seem to be unable to do anything about it.<

Now due to DCC wanting to save money it looks like the subsidised part of the service may be withdrawn. How are the older residents at the top of Higher St Thomas going to get home should they go out for the evening.  DCC say that 17,541 journeys will be affected. It should read 17,541 people will be greatly inconvenienced.

He concludes  “it is about time our representatives pulled your collective fingers out and started doing what you were elected for.”

This is what we will be doing about the P bus

Like you I have only just heard of these proposals – I received an e-mail earlier this afternoon. The plans were given the good ahead at a meeting of DCC Cabinet on 14/01/15.

There is the statutory 12 week consultation period on these proposals – and that’s just what they are, proposals. But, please do not take that comment as an admission of resignation or complacency.

I will look to work with my Labour colleague to fight these proposals as best we can. I can’t promise that we will success, but we will give it our best shot.

In the first instance, we will ensure that every one in the ward knows about the plans and encourage them to respond to the consultation.  We can only work for you, if you shout as loud as we do.

Just to remind you, DCC is a shire county run by a Tory administration – and the 7 Labour Cllrs sitting on the Council do their best to challenge each and every cut due to ‘austerity’ – the list is long: libraries, youth services, meals on whees, adult social care, warden services, care homes, etc.

DCC has taken on-board the bribes from Central Government and for several years allowed their (very large) proportion of Council Tax to be frozen – and so increasing pressure on their reducing budgets.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost!

Let me assure you that I am as frustrated as you about these proposals – and let’s remember that at present they are just that, proposals.

I will work with residents and others to try and retain as much of the evening service as we can.

As you are probably aware, Stagecoach is a commercial operation and has to satisfy the wishes of shareholders – and in doing so, completely fail in providing a public transport service.

The reason for the current subsidy is that Stagecoach can’t make a profit from the evening service, and it is only the payment from DCC makes it worth their while.

Let’s get you all out using the P and make it commercially viable at night.

We already have a meeting arranged with DCC Transport Co-ordination Officers later this week to look at other solutions to the P service failing to take Cowick residents to their local GP surgery – and we will certainly raise these new proposals with them.

In the longer term, we have been speaking with Ben Bradshaw MP about the frustrations of Cowick residents over the local service – he has spoken with Labour’s Shadow Transport team who are looking to allow local councils to take much more control over the routes and fares.

Bus surgery on buses to the surgery

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Do you think Cowick deserves better buses?

It is believed by many that the public transport delivered by Stagecoach for Cowick residents does not meet the needs of the travelling public

It is a 2-bus trip to access medical and health services provided by the St Thomas Medical Centre on Cowick Street, a difficult and taxing journey for those with mobility problems and young children in buggies.

They have to make a change of bus at St Thomas precinct – the 2nd bus stop is not even directly opposite the in-bound bus stop. They have to walk some 100m to catch the second bus.

Yet up to 8 buses an hour from Exwick stop at the First and Last bus stop allowing residents from Exwick convenient access to the health centre. These often cause traffic congestion at this busy junction, inconveniencing Cowick residents opting to use their own private transport, yet no direct bus from Cowick goes to this end of Cowick Street

It also means that it is expensive to travel to reach the health centre. Patients either have to buy 4 single tickets or an Exeter Dayrider at £3.50 to  make a bus journey to travel less than a mile as the crow flies.

On Thursday 1 November, Cllr Paul Bull, intends to experience the journey,  catching the P service departing Crossmeads/Sylvan Heights at 09:40 [the first service available to bus pass holders] to time the journey to St Thomas Health Centre.

Paul then plans to spend time talking to passengers on the service throughout the day to discover what they think of the current service offered by Stagecoach.

Follow Paul’s journey using the twitter hashtag #CowickBuses