Bus Meeting – 17th March 2016

Cllr Roberts welcomed everyone to the special meeting regarding the bus service.

Cllr Tom Wells – Outlined the issues, provided a map with bus routes, thanked all those that had supported the bus crisis 2 years ago and was sorry to be back again.

Hanley Castle was to lose its bus service as from April 10th as the route was changing. It would leave Worcester hourly but would turn left at the Rhydd, go to Hanley Swan and on to Upton and Tewkesbury via Welland. The next hour it would go to Upton but then across river and via Kempsey. It would be an hourly service but by-pass Hanley Castle.

The bus company’s reason for excluding Hanley Castle was that when the Hanley road floods it disrupts the bus service and has massive knock on effects.

Tom Wells had suggested that a bus could go through Hanley Castle one hour and via Blackmore the following hour so Hanley Castle would still have some kind of service. There remained a bus from the Chase, one other services 3 times a day via Upton, one being at 7am in the morning; a school bus between Upton and Malvern but no connection Hanley Swan to Malvern.

People suffering are those who enjoy the Upton to Malvern service, where every other bus goes through Hanley Swan. It was not just an issue for the village but also has an impact on Malvern Wells and other villages.

Tom Wells said he was not taking it lying down and had set up various meetings with First Bus and with Worcestershire CC. First Bus were cherry picking the sections of the route they wished to run.

Why is it important to have a route between Upton and Malvern? It is good for the local economy as it takes in the Three Counties Showground; they would be without a bus route if changes happened.

Parishioners had concerns about access to health care and access to Great Malvern train station and it wouldn’t be possible to get from Malvern to Upton via public transport from April.

First Bus had said it was unfortunate; WCC has stated in the strategic plan that there must be a public transport route between Upton and Malvern.

Education is a big issue; parishioners have to go to Worcester and Malvern for college and would be unable to with the proposed changes. Post 16 there are no requirements to provide transport. Hanley Castle 6th form would be impacted as there would be no bus route to the school.

What can we do? Cllr Wells said an online petition has been set up asking for the route to continue. He encouraged everyone to sign it.

The value of properties will change if they are no longer on a bus route.

Do we persuade bus provider to take a hit to get the connection to Malvern or ask WCC to subsidise it? First Bus said they were 1/3 down on running costs so Tom Wells hoped to have a meeting with WCC to see whether they would assist with subsidising the route.

Tom Wells had had a meeting with WCC who understood the points he raised; they have an 18 seater coach that could possibly be utilised but Tom Wells said it had to be operated on a proper time table and suggested a circular route – but it would come at a price.

Bob Lamb asked if another operator would take over the route, or was it a bit of a monopoly.

Sue Adeney suggested a variety of things that could be done; primarily that we should demand that we keep the service we have although unfortunately people do not use the bus as much as they could.

She then invited the people present to tell their stories-

Thank you to Tom for all he is doing – astonished nobody from First Bus has come to the meeting. Sarah East the manager has never been seen, can’t see how to contact her on the website. Its a predatory company that is across the world. Bus Users UK are an extremely useful group. As a regular bus user from Welland, Marlbank Road will no longer be a stop and the bus will only stop at The Pheasant and people can’t necessarily get there.

Lady & Daughter – Big users of education and have to drive children around as no longer be able to get the secondary school by bus.

Would it be possible to have a service like dial and ride? – The community care scheme gets people to the surgery but the bus route no longer goes up Tunnel Hill and it is so very hard to get an appointment to fit in with the buses?

Helen – non driver living in Hanley Castle so relies on the bus as there is no shop or Post Office left in the village; it would be impossible to stay without relying on friends.

Alison – council and governments there to help us so it might be thought they would be able to have the power to tell the buses which routes they should take. Tom Wells – if the council were subsidising the route they could but as they are not it is a commercial venture so they cannot compel them to do so, it is the only industry that does not have an ombudsman or equivalent.

Sue Adeney – it’s the County Council letting us down as First Bus are a commercial company. Ask everyone to write to address provided by Tom Wells and also to use the buses, many entitled to bus passes and could use them more.

Cynthia – increased costs as needs to get a bus at 9.02 to get into Malvern for 10.15 and then a long wait for a bus back; 3.15 is last bus back from Malvern at present.

How does the bus pass payment work? – Everyone who flashes a pass means the bus company doesn’t get the market price but does get something for it.

Sarah Darwent – £1.6m subsidy what are our chances of being eligible to it? As there is a real need to get parishioners to appointments. Tom Wells– it is allocated to other bus services so we need to prise it open and other routes would have to stop their subsidies to make ours subsidised, a relatively modest amount of money could be available from other areas.

MHDC have up to £500 to allocate to things and lots of councillors involved along the route – Sue Adeney – but that money won’t last and other areas would be cut to compensate.

Tom Wells- there is a role for PCs within this by publicising routes and times etc. and any changes to routes and timings etc. We need to be more to help them grow their business. He would like to set up bi- annual meetings with them to raise issues etc. They would like to see people who have options to use buses rather than only those that have no other choice.

Sue Adeney – what would encourage you to use the buses?

Suggestions/Comments.

  • Simple easy and accessible time tables of routes.
  • Make sure they are readable the ones on the bus.
  • Needs to be clear if it is hail and ride.
  • Used it regularly in the past as they would like to use it for shopping. Wife had a stroke and he has glaucoma so may lose his licence and would then have to rely on the bus.
  • Timetables incomprehensible – live notifications of where the bus is, improved communication – Travelline.co.uk is a good one to use.
  • Timetables are not kept up to date
  • 9.40 in Callow End is very full
  • Time doesn’t fit in with work quite often
  • Bus route is a means of social inclusion
  • Hand sanitiser to be on the buses.

In summary people were encouraged to write, the Parish Council would write; a list of things that would increase bus use was noted and everyone was told to please, please use the buses.

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