Since March I’ve been on the road with Save Our Buses meeting brilliant local campaigners. I’ve also been in the office receiving your emails, phone calls and letters.
So far I’ve helped around one hundred people save and improve their valued local bus services. The campaign has taken me to Somerset, Bedfordshire, Hampshire and Lincolnshire.
Who has been getting in touch in the last six months?
97% of you have been outside of the big cities. 78% in areas that have a county council, including most of rural England. The most active region was the South West, closely followed by other parts of southern England. Looking a bit further north the East Midlands was the region with the most campaigners getting in touch. In London and in the North East we didn’t hear from anyone. Do you know of bus cuts in these regions that we should be watching?
One of the most popular ways to get in touch has been the web form, where you can tell us about cuts. But I’ve noticed some of you prefer to get in touch by phone and I even get the odd letter. You often tell us that you find out about the campaign through our appearances on TV, radio and in local and national newspapers.
What do you tell us?
The things that come up frequently are:
- Poor intermodal connectivity (bus to train especially)
- Poor connections to vital services such as hospitals
- Tightening of bus pass concession requirements (often reverting to statutory scheme)
- Competing operators on same route timed minutes apart
- Loss of evening and weekend services
- Poor communication of route changes by operators
- Buck passing between operators and transport authorities when problems arise
- Loss of services that cross local authority boundaries
- Lack of proper consultation on subsidy cuts or changes
On the positive side you’ve been telling us:
- Parish councils can be useful allies and in some places are subsidising services
- Participating in Catch the Bus Week provides useful publicity for your campaigns
- Encouraging your elected representatives to catch the bus is a useful campaign tool
And you have been winning!
Many transport authorities threaten to cut all subsidised services, but well organised campaigns have been winning at least partial victories, such as:
|May||Hambleton Over Fifties||North Yorkshire County Council||Route saved. Council now operating directly|
|June||Henley Town Council||Oxfordshire County Council||Four route subsidies saved|
|July||York Bus Forum||York City Council||Several route subsidies saved|
|August||Save the 51 bus route||Bristol City Council||Commercial route withdrawn now subsidised|
What is in store for the next six months?
We are going to produce a new campaigner guide ahead of the 2017 local elections and update our annual figures on bus subsidy cuts. We’re also closely following the Bus Services Bill, which could help improve bus services everywhere.
Have you been getting the campaign newsletter that goes out every month? In it you will find details of local consultations on bus changes, stories about campaigners who are winning in their area and ways you can help.