Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Cllr A Turpin, South Somerset District Council (BUS 84)

Severance of 30A evening and Sunday bus service—linking Axminster (Railway Station) Chard, Ilminster and Taunton including the main District General Hospital, Paddington Line/ South West railway station and the National Express bus service.

I am a South Somerset District Councillor, Vice Chair of the Somerset Public Transport Forum and use public transport and my Brompton bike as my main mode of transport. I have also been bombarded with very sad stories since this news was announced.

In this capacity I meet many bus users and continue to learn much.

The effects of this termination of this service with no impact assessment nor consideration of other initiatives has had horrifying consequences.

In relation to the Sunday services I know of residents along the route who:

—  are now having to look for alternative employment;

—  use these services to collect and return children of broken marriages and who have week-end custody of the children. This will no longer be possible;

—  can no longer attend the church of their choice;

—  usually travel to Taunton on a Sunday for shopping;

—  use the service to travel to and from relatives;

—  use this service as a link to main line rail and National Express services at Taunton;

—  I don't know how many, (though I know of one) who will be deprived of visiting relatives and friends in Musgrove Park Hospital both on Sundays and in the evenings. (His wife has just had a stroke);

—  but I do know that for many, many people (including those with disabilities) this service is all they have to "get around" on a Sunday;

—  we do know that Taunton trade will be affected.

The evidence for all this is that most 30A buses are at least half or two thirds full at the Taunton end. I travel on the 30 / 30A regularly. Yesterday, I joined the 1510 bus at the beginning of the route at Axminster. By the time the bus reached my village (the first part of the journey) there were 10 passengers, seven were young people who had been camping. This illustrates the point these Sunday buses are very popular with holiday makers.

The evening services provide for those (some of whom I know) returning from evening work:

—  We have no idea how many students will be affected either for evening studies at the SCAT College or travelling to casual employment so as to boost their grant.

—  nor do we know how many staff will no longer be able to work into the early evening.

—  nor do we know how many young people like to travel to Taunton to socialise in the evenings.

One of the problems that is less money is taken on these evening services because travellers use return tickets or they have passes.

One thing we do know is that as pump prices rise so demand for bus travel will also increase.

I am particularly sorry that this has all happened without looking at ameliorating initiatives such as more express services with Parish Councils providing a local service to the nearest interchange.

March 2011

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