Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from J Robertson (BUS 98)

First of all, I need to say that I live in a rural town (Richmond) in North Yorkshire. Our nearest large town and railway station is 12 miles away in County Durham at Darlington. At the moment we have a good service of buses there during the daytime (up until 6pm) and then they are every hour from Darlington (including the railway station) up until 11pm (but there is no service at 10pm). If the evening, or Sunday services were stopped, it would mean Richmond would become "cut-off" for many people at those times.

There are other buses that service the town area and the local villages. However, it needs to be understood that by "local", I mean 21 miles up to the end of Swaledale, as well as Wensleydale and the villages to the N, S and E of Richmond.

We have been informed that the local town bus will stop running at 6pm on weekdays and all day on Sunday. This will have a severe impact on many people who do not have access to cars. Eg a pensioner friend of mine would have to walk a mile and a half to attend church on Sunday (both ways). Whilst this may be "healthy living", you must understand that the weather is not always kind and walking in driving rain, icy pavements, or just very cold weather is difficult. Some people are just not capable of walking that far. Taxi fares are too expensive especially on the longer journeys.

The Concessionary Bus passes are a real "life-saver" for most disabled and elderly people and I think it would be a particularly cruel and hard hearted government to take away one of the few really worth while concessions for this group. After all the pensions have not exactly kept pace with the rate of inflation and this group are unable to boost their incomes in any other way.

I have heard that some of the top Managers of the bus companies are receiving six figure salaries - surely it would be worth looking into the need for this excessive payout. Do we really need so many "managers"? If cuts have to be made, this is an area that needs serious consideration.

I agree that some savings could be made but to just scrap services without a proper consultation of the users is not fair.

One needs to consider the wider implications of a restricted bus service. In a rural area like this, there are many local markets and activities up the Dales. Tourism is of huge importance here and helps boost the area economy. Whilst I agree a lot of people use cars, some of us try really hard to leave them at home, (as promoted by your government) and use public transport. If I am walking in the Dales, or up in Teesdale or down near Ripon, I usually manage to use the buses. So if they are taken away, do I then presume you want me to use my car? A poor bus service would have a pretty drastic effect in this area. Not only that, people would become housebound and depressed but quite likely they would need the services of the NHS more.

Another consideration is that Catterick Garrison (now the largest army camp in UK?) is only three miles from Richmond and when I travel back to Darlington by rail on a Sunday evening, the Richmond bus, which also serves Catterick, is usually full of soldiers returning from weekend leave.

Just imagine removing buses and tubes from London, there would be an enormous out-cry! We may be a less dense population up here, but our buses are vital to our way of life. Think long and hard about what your decisions may mean to this community and I beg you to do your homework properly.

April 2011

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