Memorandum by Avril Fox (Bus 50)
BUS TRANSPORT INQUIRY
1. Born in 1917, I am of an age to remember
what a British Integrated System of Transport actually means.
1.1 It means that from any part of this
country one has access to a network of buses, coaches, trains
and airports which will convey one to any other part.
1.2 In my forties (that is, the sixties
of the last century) I used such a system. It was inefficient,
with long waits, but it existed.
1.3 Such a system is now so long forgotten
that intelligent young county officers of transport do not understand
such a concept. When I ask why I cannot board a bus from Aylsham
to go direct to Norwich Railway Station I am told that there is
no demand for such a service. Unsurprising when it doesn't exist.
Rural people don't put pen to paper on such things; they put up
1.4 An integrated system would mean that
every hamletwith maybe a short taxi rideshould be
within reach of a bus which would link its citizens with the national
2. Such a national system requires subsidising.
2.1 The first crushing blow to the old sixties
network was the Beeching slaughter of branch lines.
2.2 The second, mortal blow was the privatisation
of buses. Unscrupulous "entrepreneurs" ran free services
on profitable routes, bankrupting decent employers who kept to
trade union standards, and creamed these routes off, charging
fees at whatever rates they chose. The other routes, vital to
country people but unprofitable, simply died.
2.3 Norfolk has been hit worse by this process
than the rest of Britain, and will not achieve access to an integrated
network until a sufficient subsidy, whether local or national,
exists to pay forat a minimumhourly services from
every village to a hub market town with a decent bus station,
from which services run to the nearest railway station, coach
station or airport.
2.4 The effect of such an improvement upon
rural employment and morale, through access to, for example, medical
facilities, theatres, cinemas, farmers' markets and sports centres
would not only be incalculable but would result in a concomitant
reduction in car use and probably more employed taxpayers.
3. I am now a healthy 85, and would like
to ask the Committee if it is remotely possible that before I
die I might have access to a transport system even equal to the
rather inefficient one that I enjoyed in the 1960s.
1 May 2002