Wilmcote and Aston Cantlow Bus Action Group was formed following a significant change in local bus services in October 2007 with the withdrawal of commercially operated bus services by Stagecoach in Warwickshire.
The group has actively fought to maintain the level of service, particulary those services operated in the evening, which following the changes were withdrawn. Our campaigning has resulted in the reinstatement of these services following the introduction of a financially supported replacement service by Warwickshire County Council.
Contact: Stephen Law
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Tel: 07958 019919
April 2011: Since the last update there has been some positive and some really depressingly bad news affecting the service 229/29, which this group was originally formed to support and promote.
Firstly, in April 2010 Warwickshire County Council, in partnership with Stratford on Avon District Council, introduced a special evening return fare of £2. This was valid from anywhere in Warwickshire to anywhere in Stratford on Avon District Council, on any bus after 18:00, returning the same evening. This was very extensively promoted throughout the county.
Furthermore, over the last two years, bus services in South Warwickshire have been greatly improved. There are two principal operators in the area, Stagecoach Midland Red and Johnsons Travel. Both operators have increased frequencies, particularly Stagecoach, and 86% of buses are now easy/low entry and low emission vehicles. This has been accompanied by a visible increase in passenger numbers in the county; in Stratford upon Avon, numbers waiting at bus stops underline this.
However, the group were very disappointed to hear through the local newspaper that ALL of Warwickshire's supported evening bus services were to be axed. That is to say any service departing from the start of its route after 18:30. Despite councillors stating that there would be consultation, there has been none. It is very disappointing to realise that the County Council, being directed by councillors, did not feel it would be appropriate to consult the people most affected by this decision, the bus users themselves.
This group is principally supporting service 229, which has always been a day service; however service 29 was introduced in 1998 as an evening service, following the Rural Bus Grant introduced by the then Labour Government. It combines three daytime services (Stagecoach 26, 28/28A, and Johnsons 229, it also partially covers First Group day service 247) and operates in Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Essentially the service 29 runs from Stratford upon Avon to Evesham via the villages and towns covered by the different daytime services. It is indeed a perfect example of combining services to provide an evening service at a sensible frequency and cost; people accept the longer journey times which result, but are pleased to have the service facility. It is used not only by those travelling for pleasure, but, importantly, by those for whom it is the only way to travel to and from work.
Furthermore the decision was only publicly announced in the local newspaper, The Stratford Herald, on 31 March 2011. The release from Warwickshire County Council to Councillors stated that the axe would fall from September onwards. We naturally began to organise to oppose the cut. Then unannounced again, a passenger travelling on a late evening service (29) was informed by the driver, purely by chance, that service 29 (evening running of service 229) was ending 28 May 2011. We are trying to get this delayed so that a proper consultation can be undertaken of the bus users. We are not confident, as it appears that many councillors are not interested in bus services.
Finally, one of the local councillors representing an area along route 229/29 failed to inform the group of these proposals, and recently informed the group that evening services were infrequently used. I was myself on the service 29 23:25 departure from Stratford upon Avon on Friday 1 April 2011. This was operated by a 29 seat vehicle and 42 boarded! This is unfortunately a decision taken by people who never use these services, and have no idea of the passenger numbers and no interest in preserving and improving services. Instead they have no compunction in destroying a service that has been running for 12 years, and in such haste that opposition cannot be organised.
April 2008: The new timetable has been successfully introduced. The group would like to remind readers of the evening services into and from Stratford. There are two evening services into town departing Wilmcote Green at 17:26 and 18:26 and Aston Cantlow King’s Head at 17:32 and 18:32. A return bus, the number 29 (to Evesham) departs Bridge Street at 23:25 and Wood Street 23:26 on request to Wilmcote and Aston Cantlow. This is an excellent way of travelling for a night out in Stratford.
The other good news is that with the new timetable the fares have been reduced with the return fare now £2.85 down from £3.60. Another good incentive to use the service!
We have received a letter from John Maples MP reaffirming his support for us, offering assistance should we require it and requesting that we keep him informed of any relevant events.