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Now due to DCC wanting to save money it looks like the subsidised part of the service may be withdrawn.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.

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.

 

[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.

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 | 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.

E&E | Stagecoach boss to face public over Exeter buses

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01 May 2013

Stagecoach boss to face public over Exeter buses

STAGECOACH’S commercial director Robert Williams has agreed to attend a public meeting about bus routes serving Cowick.

The meeting is a result of a request sent to Mr Williams by city councillors Heather Morris and Paul Bull.

Cllr Morris said: “We are very pleased that Mr Williams has accepted our invitation and has responded as follows: ‘While bus services are an important part of a community, as a bus  comany we are not able to ignore that fact that there has to be a means of paying for those services.

“‘To run more services we need more passengers.

“‘I would be happy to attend a meeting to hear the concerns of the residents and their suggestions for how we might improve our services and attract more pasesngers.

“‘However, I do not wish to raise any hope or an expectation that any major change will be possible in the current economic climate.’”

Cllr Morris added: “We have approached Peter Fowler, associate minister from the Baptist Church in Dorset Avenue to ask if we can hold the meeting in one of their rooms.

“Peter has kindly agreed that we can.

“We therefore hope residents in Cowick will take this opportunity to discuss their concerns with Stagecoach directly and while Stagecoach’s response does not promise any major change we hope that Stagecoach will give serious consideration to any viable suggestions brought forward by residents.

“While we have organised this meeting for residents living in Cowick, the meeting will only be successful if residents attend.

“Therefore, both Cllr Bull and I will look to set a date for this meeting as soon as possible, and we will advertise the meeting through our newsletter which will be delivered to every household in Cowick.”