Author Topic: A Municipal Bus Service or a “fully commercial service”?  (Read 8582 times)

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Offline Muggins

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Re: A Municipal Bus Service or a “fully commercial service”?
« Reply #40 on: November 10, 2012, 09:41:39 AM »
Well for the hospital it is, or soon will be.

And what is the hospital's biggest problem?  Yes you've got it...............PARKING.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: A Municipal Bus Service or a “fully commercial service”?
« Reply #41 on: November 10, 2012, 09:55:18 AM »
Now Des talking about an 'Integrated Transport Policy' is stating the obvious, to us anyway, but those numpties who take the decisions do not ride the buses and are not likely to do so.  So they are uniquely qualified aren't they?

Since I acquired my bus pass I do take the bus to St Albans, a five and a half hour journey which shows you everything that is wrong with public transport in our Country.

I go out the back of my estate to Shaw Road and catch the No 19 into town.  This is a half hourly service which goes to Fleming Way although I usually get off at Canal Walk and walk through to see if Rod's big telly has acquired an audience since my previous visit and on to the Bus Station which is one of the least pleasant of my day.  Dark Dingy and busy with all too little room to manoevre and far too dirty to put down a bag. 

There I get the 66 to Oxford another half hourly service which goes to the bus station but my bus to Aylesbury the 280 goes from the Railway Station and is often leaving as I arrive.  Fortunately for me this service is every twenty minutes.  When you get to Aylesbury you go to the Bus Station which is underneith the Friar Shopping Centre and from which all the Bus Services for the area radiate.  It is on an oval with all the stops radiating from a central well lit clean waiting room with clean floors and toilets and a cafe.  A nice place to be if you have to wait.  If you are lucky the Watford bus the 500 is their waiting for you and a couple of yards walk and you have changed.  They run every half hour and I go to Hemel Hemstead which is an open air chaotic facility which needs improvement and I usually have to wait a half hour wait for the Stevenage bus which goes through ST A.

The point of all this detail that if I were elderly or infirm it would be impossible.  The Aylesbury bus station is more or less next to the station and on its return the Watford bus goes there first.  The backward Swindon boys ought to visit it as we should have a central transport hub next door to the railway station from which all the bus services are based.  They could pick up at Fleming Way either on their way to or from the Railway Bus Station and then we could see what effect it would have on bus usage.  Just replacing the Stagecoach orientated bus station with another elsewhere is not the answer. 

Now because of the time it takes to access the present bus station from the motorway or A419 we are, in my opinion, poorly served by National Express.  So to overcome this difficulty we should build a motorway bus terminal as they have in Milton Keynes next door to Junction 15 and run a local bus such as the Hospital one as an express to it.  If this idea were replicated accross the country it could actually lead to a reduction in the costs of travel and the number of cars on the motorways.  If this bus station were to be built at Junction 15 it could be possible to access services to South Wales and the South West.  Obviously not every one of them would stop but certain services could do so accross the day.  I am sure that National Express would welcome this idea. 

So if you want to be remembered Coalition Government investigate this please.

Reverting to the Hospital Service folks will remember that the No 19 used to go all the way from Sparcells to the Hospital but now you have to change at Fleming Way.  Why not run the no 19 as is to Fleming Way and then as an Express to the hospital?  It could then replace the 16 or is this too Innovative for the bus company?  Certainly would help unwell people from West Swindon get there!!

All my posts are my own opinion and do not represent any political organization or group

Offline Martin Wicks

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Swindon's Municipal bus service under threat
« Reply #42 on: November 10, 2012, 02:36:14 PM »
Swindon's Municipal bus service under threat

Swindon Council has announced that it is updating its Transport Strategy. It explains how in a document entitled “Towards an updated local bus Strategy for Swindon Borough Council”. The general thrust of the document is towards a “fully commercial” service and
for the Council to play “an enabling role in supporting the development of commercial bus operations”. Reading this my first instinct was to ask the question are they looking to flog off our municipal bus service? Or, who knows, even give it away to some private bus
operator, Stagecoach, for example. Or an amalgamation?

With this in mind I sent in a number of written questions for Public Question Time at Thursday night's Council meeting. The key one was: “Is the Council committed to maintaining its ownership of Thamesdown Transport?” The Lead member responded, “There are no plans to change ownership at this time.” At this time? This is a politician's answer but the implication is quite clear. A big question mark hangs over the future of Swindon's Municipal bus service. Why else would the Lead member not give a commitment that they would continue to own the service?

Of course, this Council, or rather its ruling group, has consistently said ownership does not matter. But it does. None other than the director of Thamesdown Transport, in a recent meeting on Parks, explained why. It was advantageous for the Council to own
Thamesdown Transport because its large network gave it the ability to cross-subsidise services. In other words money they made on the more lucrative services could be used on services which were socially necessary. Private companies would not do that.

He was right. That's why the aim of moving towards “fully commercial” services will inevitably undermine any social and environmental aims. I've written elsewhere about the contradiction between the “three key principles” of the 'update' and the social and environmental aims contained in the Council's Transport Strategy.

Although in a response to one of my questions the Lead Member said that “social or environmental factors will always be considered as factors in determining what the ideal bus network will be”, if the service becomes “fully commercial” we can expect them to be
“considered” and then ignored. At any rate they are not included as “key principles” in the update.

Judge the response to my questions for yourself. I'll comment on them myself later.

See them here: http://martinwicks.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/swindons-municipal-bus-service-under-threat/

Offline Martin Wicks

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Re: A Municipal Bus Service or a “fully commercial service”?
« Reply #43 on: November 14, 2012, 03:04:55 PM »
Here's a letter to the Adver.

Swindon's municipal bus service under threat?

At the recent Council meeting, in Public Question Time, I asked “Is the Council committed to maintain its ownership of Thamesdown Transport”. The Lead Member replied: “There are no plans to change ownership at this time.” At this time? This politician's answer poses a question mark over the future of our service.

The question was prompted by the Council's 'update' of its Transport Strategy which proposes to turn our municipal bus service into a “fully commercial” one. That implies that social and environmental aims will be be downgraded, if considered at all. The profit motive will dominate.

As the Director of Thamesdown Transport recently explained in a meeting on Parks, one of the benefits of a municipally owned bus service is that its big network gives it the possibility of cross-subsidising services. This enables support of socially necessary services which a private company would not support. We have already seen the consequences of cuts in services for Parks, East Walcot and Penhill for people who are old, infirmed or suffering chronic illness.

Swindon Borough Council's Transport Strategy document of 2009 recognised the need for a shift from private cars to public transport, both from the point of view of the environmental crisis, and the potential growth of the town. It said:

“Congestion will worsen and carbon emissions will grow if the forecast increase in travel demand is met by the private car. The challenge is to make public transport an attractive alternative to car use for a high proportion of the population. ”

The 'update' of the Transport Strategy threatens to undermine any efforts to make public transport “an attractive alternative to car use”. Moreover, the danger is that a move towards “a fully commercial service” will lead to the poor being priced off the buses and further cuts. Such a stepmay well be a prelude to flogging off our service, giving it away, or some form of amalgamation or 'partnership' with a private company.

There will be a consultation over the move towards a “fully commercial service”. We have to give the Council a strong message that a “fully commercial service” is not in the interests of the town and its people. As for the future of our municipal bus service, the Lead Member should not hide behind a politician's answer. We want to know what they are considering. We don't want a formal consultation after a decision has been made, we want a genuine and open consultation in which local people have the opportunity to influence the outcome. We have had more than enough 'consultations' in this town which are nothing more than fig leafs for decisions cast in stone. The Lead Member should come clean.

Martin Wicks
Chair, Parks & East Walcot Forum





Offline Martin Wicks

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Re: A Municipal Bus Service or a “fully commercial service”?
« Reply #44 on: December 12, 2012, 03:24:28 PM »

Media Release December 10th 2012

Swindon's bus service should have social and environmental, and not just commercial aims

A number of local community groups have come together to press the Council to abandon its proposal to turn Swindon's bus service into “a fully commercial network”. See the attached statement. They are Parks & East Walcot Forum, Penhill Forum, Swindon Older People's Forum, Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, Swindon Walcot & Parks Community Group.

Swindon Borough Council is proposing to 'update' its Transport Strategy, turning the bus service into a “fully commercial network”. We have already seen the negative social consequences of 'commercial' decisions which have produced cuts in services such as the 18, the 21 and the 23; cuts which have been made without consulting service users. Turning the service into a “fully commercial”one threatens further service cuts. The Council papers for the Cabinet meeting say that the bus service is “95% commercial” and they are proposing to end the bus subsidy and move to a “100% commercial service”.

Martin Wicks (Chair of Parks & East Walcot Forum) said:

“The Lead Member responsible for Transport recently told the Swindon Advertiser that under this new regime people can expect to walk further to get a bus than they do currently, but what if they are not fit to walk very far? The loss of the leg of the journey of the No 18 from Park South to the hospital (and soon the loss of the No 30) has made life more difficult for older and chronically ill people who travel to the hospital regularly. The scaling back of the No 21 meant that some school children from Penhill have a long walk to school because there is no bus service for them.

If the bus service is "fully commercial" then the profit motive will come first and social and environmental aims will be subordinate, if they are considered at all. The Council has previously admitted that if the town is not to become choked with traffic and greater pollution, then there will have to be a shift from private car use to public transport. However, the Council's 'update' appears to have forgotten this. The more that Thamesdown Transport concentrates on the main roads, as the Lead member said it would in future, then the more likely it is that those with cars will go back to them rather than using the bus, whilst life for those who do not own a car will become more difficult.

We are also concerned that this change will be a prelude to selling off the municipal bus service. Lead Member responsible for Transport, Keith Williams, when asked if the Council was committed to maintaining ownership of Thamesdown Transport said there are no plans for a change of ownership “at this time”. His refusal to commit to maintaining municipal ownership poses a question mark over its future.

Swindon Council's Cabinet will be discussing the Transport 'update' at its meeting on December 12th. It looks as if they will hold the consultation to run over the Christmas period. This gives the impression they think it is a formality. We are calling on them to hold the consultation after the Christmas holidays.”

We are calling on local people to email Keith Williams, Lead Member, and express their opposition to the move towards a “fully commercial service”. You can email him at KRWilliams@swindon.gov.uk or write to him care of the Civic Offices in Euclid St.

For further comment ring Martin Wicks on 07786 394593