Tag Archives: bus services

Welcome to my day: 5 September 2022 – catching up with the paperwork…

For those of you amongst our readers who don’t know, I’m a Parish councillor in my small, but perfectly formed, village in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley. For a variety of reasons, we’ve recently laboured without either a Chair or a Parish Clerk, and I am reminded how fragile our democracy is. You see, democracy requires not only politicians but administrators and these are increasingly in short supply.

Politicians, as a species, are seldom popular, but the hostility shown to the more high profile ones puts off potential candidates at our tier too, and we need 100,000 councillors at the first tier in England alone. Many Town and Parish Councils are, effectively, democracy-free zones, without contested elections and with vacancies often filled by poorly publicised co-options. That lack of competition risks poor, unchallenged governance and thus poor representation at a level of government that spends over £1 billion per annum.

So, if you live in an area with a Town or Parish Council, do think about putting your name forward in next May’s elections.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 7 Comments

How to build a better bus network

272 million trips were made on trams and light rail in England in 2018/19 and more than 1.76 billion on trains in the same year. But the trusty bus accounted for almost 70% of all public transport journeys – a massive 4.31 billion.

Yet bus services are treated as the poor relative, as an afterthought. The result is fewer people using buses each year and fewer services being run. Rural bus routes have been especially badly hit, with subsidies drastically cut back through years of austerity.

We broadly agree on what we want from our buses. We want them to be fast, frequent, reliable, run early in the morning and late at night, be clean, safe and comfortable. These days we want USB charging points and free Wi-Fi (though with 4G and 5G becoming ubiquitous, Wi-Fi usage on buses is already falling). We want electric buses that pollute less: they cost about twice as much to buy, but fuel savings mean the lifetime cost of ownership is no more than a diesel bus.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Notes From A New Councillor: Bus Services Motion Passes!

I wanted to post an update to the blog I wrote in August on the poor bus provision in Oxfordshire due to cuts in bus subsidies.

There are two parts to this story – the motion I moved on Tuesday to Full Council which passed unanimously – hooray! – and how I got the motion to its final form.

We’ll start with the second part, as that was the real journey for me as a new councillor.  I had originally submitted this motion for September full council, but we ran out of time …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Notes from a new councillor: Why we need decent bus services

I attended my first Cabinet Meeting recently as Oxfordshire County Councillor. OCC is led by a coalition of Conservatives and Independents. The question I put was:

Many villages in Wheatley Division are suffering because of the cut in bus subsidies. Elderly and vulnerable people are isolated; younger people cannot get to college and apprenticeships; those who relied on buses for work are now using cars and increasing the traffic on our already congested roads. Does the member agree with me that saving up to £4 million pounds from cutting bus subsidy was a false economy, and will she work with me to find room in our forthcoming budget to reinstate bus subsidies?

Well the member did not agree with me, and proceeded to inform me about all the community transport initiatives underway throughout the county. I am already well versed in these grass-root efforts, having been along to a fair number of community transport meetings over the last two months.

My problem is that offering locals buses twice a week for shopping; or relying on volunteers to get people to hospital appointments; or telling village residents to cross a busy highway (A40) for the nearest bus; is not good enough.

Connecting Oxfordshire, Local Transport Plan 2015 – 2031 includes the vision behind providing local buses. Here are three of the key outcomes (p. 16):

1. To support the transition to a low-carbon future.

2. To support social inclusion and equality of opportunity.

3. To protect, and where possible enhance, Oxfordshire’s environment and improve quality of life.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 30 Comments
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