Ruspidge & Soudley
County council saves 350,000 bus journeys
Following an exercise to find new providers for bus routes cut by Stagecoach Gloucestershire County Council have today announced the results.
The county council acted quickly to try and ensure that no one would be left isolated. The success of our efforts has protected around 350,000 of the journeys that the Stagecoach cuts would have lost, had the county council not acted so decisively.
However, not all the routes could be replaced, and in those cases alternative ways of getting around are being promoted. This includes making use of more innovative modes of transport such as dial-a-ride, community transport and ‘The Robin’ which has recently been launched in the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds. In addition, personal transport planners will be on hand to talk to anyone who needs extra help.
Notably, a provider has been found for the route that serves the Arle Court Park and Ride, which is having a £20m upgrade to encourage sustainable transport and reduce congestion.
Cllr Philip Robinson, Cabinet member for Education, Skills and Transport, said: “I promised communities across Gloucestershire that we would work tirelessly to avoid people being left isolated when these routes were cut by Stagecoach. In an extremely challenging context, the team have been able to save 350,000, about 70%, of these journeys. Where no bus provider could be found, we are promoting alternative transport solutions such as dial-a-ride, community transport and the new ‘Robin’ service.
“Stagecoach have left many communities across the county high and dry. This is unacceptable to the county council and it’s one of the reasons why I reported Stagecoach to the Traffic Commissioner. We are not prepared to let Stagecoach get away with treating communities this way. The people of Gloucestershire deserve better, and I will remain steadfast in my commitment to them and my efforts in delivering public transport that works.”
A full list of the service changes is here November bus service changes - Gloucestershire County Council. Personal transport planners are also on hand by calling 0871 200 22 33
Having your say
As part of the process the county council asked residents to provide their feedback on the proposals made by Stagecoach. The county council appreciate residents taking the time to do this. We have reviewed the feedback which was made by hundreds of residents. We have used the comments submitted as part of our FAQs page, which will be regularly updated.
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Frequently asked questions
Why are these services being withdrawn?
Stagecoach say they have taken the decision to withdraw these services due to a lack of drivers. They plan to take the drivers from the cut services and reallocate them to the rest of their network. This decision has led to the disproportionate cutting of rural infrequent services in favour of protecting urban services which threatened to leave the most isolated without alternative means to get to hospital, doctors, education or just everyday activities like going shopping.
Does the council support this?
No. The county council vehemently disagrees with this approach as it disadvantages the communities served by these routes. We have made this very clear to Stagecoach and we worked tirelessly to try and get this decision reversed. Unfortunately, our efforts to convince Stagecoach to explore a different solution, one that did not leave communities isolated and cut off from vital services, education, and employment, were unsuccessful.
Can the county council stop this?
The county council does not have authority to prevent these withdrawals from taking place. Stagecoach have fulfilled their obligation to inform the Office of the Traffic Commissioner of these withdrawals, and now they are free to implement them. Councils do not have regulatory authority over the bus network.
How is the county council holding Stagecoach to account?
In addition to our numerous communications that detail our opposition to this approach, we have also written to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner to highlight both our concern over the poor reliability of current services, and of the negative impact these November service changes will have on many Gloucestershire communities.
Are the council trying to replace these lost services?
Yes, we are doing everything we can to secure replacements for as many of these lost services as possible and have already secured replacements for 70% of the affected journeys. However, due to the driver shortage and increasing cost of delivering bus services, it is a very difficult time to procure bus services. Replacement in full of the lost Stagecoach services will not be possible, however, alternatives have been put in place and long-term solutions will be continued to look for.