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  • Wiltshire Community Bus meet: November 12, 2016
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Author Topic: Buses - the way forward for Wiltshire  (Read 12894 times)
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« on: June 04, 2016, 16:38:31 »

The Bus Services Bill (see overview) could be a game changer for Wiltshire if the County Council so chooses.   Although the county doesn't have a mayor, I believe it should at least took a serious look at new options as has the capably, record and economic case to implement them should they prove to be the right thing to do - and those three criteria are what the secretary of state will look at when deciding whether to grant local powers.

I've been working with other interested people over the past couple of months in putting together - at the request of Philip Whitehead, the county cabinet member for highways and transport - an example of what the services might look like and the economics of the whole scheme for a pilot area which is currently served by around 60 vehicles.  We also did a presentation to the Passenger Transport Review Board I'm mid April, and the accompanying document pack is here if you would like to take a look.

With the bus bill published a couple of weeks back, life has been hectic, culminating in a meeting with county officers last week. Although we were (supposedly) discussing the pilot area details (which are available here, the meeting was overtaken (or rather taken over) by the council's team - in my view - taking a very negative approach indeed to the new possibilities.  Whilst these things need to be considered and I can understand a reluctance to even consider moving to a new and perhaps challenging way of working, the Bus Bill has been carefully crafted to help everyone who wishes to on the bus operator, passengers, passenger groups, new customers  and elected transport authority work in partnership for the common good.

Anyway - there's an update letter I've circulated to all Wiltshire Councillors and Public Transport Review Board member setting out the position after last week's meeting with council officers here as I wish it to be an update that's in the public domain and I'll finish this post with a couple of images and a bit of fun.

Pilot area services, frequencies and vehicle number requirements (you'll need to look at the pilot area documents to see the full routes)

... HUGE "thank you" to Lee who's responsible for 90% of the work in there

And finally - "Put yourself in the shoes of the decision maker" ... I've chosen 10 different factors that might be considered in deciding which way to go forward - which of 8 options to choose.   And I'm asking YOU or anyone who wants to decide which factors are the most and the least important to you - apply weights - and the system will add some numbers and see what it recommends as the best ways forward

The application can be run at ... have run and share!
« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 17:00:56 by grahame » Logged

Coffee Shop Admin, Acting Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, Option 24/7 Melksham Rep
Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2016, 23:37:48 »

... HUGE "thank you" to Lee who's responsible for 90% of the work in there

Seconded. Lips sealed

William Huskisson MP (Member of Parliament) was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2016, 06:06:42 »

An update

From Wiltshire Council's web site:

Bus services consultation helps reduce impact

"The information we had really has helped us, and I'm delighted we are proposing to buck the national trend and safeguard the services people really need - Philip Whitehead"

People will still be able to make around 97 percent of bus passenger journeys in Wiltshire if councillors agree to proposals being put to next week's cabinet meeting (11 October).

Following 11,000 responses to a countywide consultation earlier this year, people asked the council to concentrate funding on the vital journeys which people rely on such as journeys to work at peak times.

If agreed, the changes will see yearly savings of around £500,000 from early next year, only a fifth of the savings originally proposed.

Philip Whitehead, cabinet member for transport said: "We had a fantastic response to the consultation. It really showed how much people value their local buses, and I am grateful to everyone who took the time to take part in the consultation.

"The information we had really has helped us, and I'm delighted we are proposing to buck the national trend and safeguard the services people really need."

Half of the bus mileage in the county is subsidised by £5.1 million per year from Wiltshire Council as it is not commercially viable otherwise. The rest of the services in Wiltshire are operated on a commercial basis by various operators.

The council's current policy of subsidising passenger journeys by up to £3.50 on most services will remain in place, and the council will continue to fund community transport schemes to current levels.

Cabinet papers for technical detail / mirror at

Personal comment (no doubt to be expanded in the days to come; from an email just sent):

Very sensible news on the buses - I understand that Wiltshire Council has scaled back the cuts it had planned to make in bus service support next year.  That means that the support budget will be £4.6 million rather than the previously planned £2.6 million, versus £5.1 million this year.  The Council has stated that 97% of passenger journeys are safe, and that services costing over £3.50 per passenger in support will be the only ones subject to review this year.    This news is very welcome in that it protects many services that people depend on for next year, and that it opens a window of opportunity to review / recast services for the medium and longer term once the options offered by the  Bus Services Bill (report to House of Lords on 12th October) and the linked statutory instruments have been fully defined and initially tested.  Cornwall Council (covering a similar sized area and with a similar population density to Wiltshire) are at the forefront of using new powers, with a partnership that could be backed up by franchising if necessary, and although the Council there are busy doing the work rather than doing lots of presentations, I was honoured to be able to attend their first presentation (“of very very few at this stage”) in Plymouth last month, and had the opportunity to speak with their lead who was inspirational, copied his presentation to me, and has offered to talk / help to us in Wiltshire as things progress.   We are likely to have one or two highly charged discussions relating to the 3% of passenger journeys (that’s 300,000 rides) subject to review; some services can be sensibly restructured ahead of bus service changes, but some are parts of support “baskets” and we need to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.  I know of one service, for example, that’s often full and standing and yet part of a subsidy group that’ll be up for review.

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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2016, 16:59:45 »

Update at for those of you living in Wiltshire or using services that pass through Wiltshire on any part of their route.    Lots of stuff I could quote - probably easier to follow the link though.



The "problem"

Solution - 2017/18 year

Solution - longer term

Community suggestion

Some new links of interest

There's both opportunities and dangers, and it's great not to be having massive cuts (10% rather than 50% in the next financial year).   With bus operator, council and community working together towards shared goals, and each occasionally compromising in the shorter term for the medium and long term good of all, this offers a window of opportunity.   But if the next year's taken as purely a 'holding position' until after the May 2017 local council elections, and if others use it to consolidate positions in anticipation of cuts the following year, we may find that the 10% rather than 50% is a battle won, but a war is still to be fought with both sides having had 12 months to regroup and strengthen their defences.

You'll find the following shortly on Facebook too ...

Update meeting ... 12th November 2016, for 11 a.m.; Well House Manor, 48, Spa Road, Melksham, SN12 7NY.

200 yards from Melksham Market Place; 20 minutes walk from Melksham Station
By invitation only (not a public meeting) but please ask if you would like an invite ;-) ... Community members (especially those with bus knowledge and / or active time to help) very welcome indeed.

Draft Agenda for informal(ish) review for Wiltshire Community / options 24/7.
- Where we stand now on buses in Wiltshire
- Bus Services Bill updates
- Looking forward to the next year
- Looking forward beyond a year

Convenient arrivals for this meeting (and - sshhh - we have plenty of parking)
09:35 train from Westbury
10:40 train from Swindon (I can pick up from station)
10:31 bus from Chippenham   
10:41 bus from Frome and Trowbridge
10:28 bus from Bath
10:04 bus from Urchfont and Devizes

Coffee Shop Admin, Acting Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, Option 24/7 Melksham Rep
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