Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from J Thompson (BUS 114)

I am writing to you as a signatory to the petition to the House of Commons by my local Member of Parliament, Mr Iain Wright.

The local primary bus services run by Stagecoach have been withdrawn by 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and all day on Sunday on most routes. The result of this is that there is now no bus service to the Hartlepool Hospital for evening visiting and no access by direct bus to the North Tees Hospital and you can't get home after reaching Hartlepool town centre. The villages around town have no facilities for shopping, doctors or schools within them. A number of non drivers live there and they are now completely isolated or dependent upon the goodwill of neighbours. The withdrawal of the service to Seaton Carew on a Sunday will affect access to beaches, the RSPB reserve at Saltholme and the businesses in the village which are heavily dependent upon visitors.

With no public transport available from the early evenings the local theatre, cinema and social events will be affected as will events within the Marina and on the Headland. Access to the recent Tall Ships event was restricted to the outskirts of town for the motorist and the bus services were overloaded. There were evening events on all four days, but many people would have been unable to support these, myself included. A return walk of seven miles for me. Many people do not own a car or drive, or are financially able to use a taxi for a "round trip" to access those activities and events which enrich and add meaning to their lives. We are living longer and we are not ready to shut the door at 6.26 p.m., the last bus from my area. I use the buses to attend two social groups one of which I have attended for 15 years and the other for four. My view is that if you wish to join in activities you should be able to get to them independently but a round trip by taxi will add between £9 and £10 for each occasion and as a pensioner on a limited budget I cannot afford it. Whilst the government has not amended the concessionary fare scheme, users have in effect been disenfranchised by the withdrawal of services at 7 p.m. and on Sundays. I know from the journeys that I use that a number of minimum wage employees working unsocial hours are dependent on the buses. Can those employees continue in employment if it means that they have to use a taxi home from work? I think not.

The losers are the general public and employees of the bus company and the service industries to the amenities within the local area.

It concerns me that the people making the decision to withdraw services and subsidies (a) do not live in the town/area and (b) are not service users. Buses require a public service licence but they are far from being run as a public service. If the current situation is allowed to continue the bus company which has the monopoly will have carte blanche to withdraw whatever it deems unprofitable in the future.

I understand the restraints that have been placed on council budgets and that a subsidy to a profit making organisation is the first to go in preference to the unemployment of thousands of Hartlepool people but there must be some better solution to transport problems and the well being of bus users. This is not only a Hartlepool problem. It exists wherever a bus company has a monopoly and is in receipt of subsidies.

April 2011

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