SCC Bus Advisory Board
Friday, 2nd December, 2022 10.00 am
- Meeting of Bus Advisory Board, Friday 2nd December 2022 10.00 am (Item 69.)
To receive the update from the Chair of the BUS Group.
Tony Reese, Vice Chair of the Bus Users and Stakeholders Group, presented the update on behalf of the Group’s Chair, Peter Travis. He offered congratulations to SCC on the £1 fare initiative and said that the £2 fare trial needed to be published as soon as possible. With respect to the threats to buses in April when government subsidies are due to end, this is a great worry; a meeting was held about it, and there were hundreds of people interested. The Group were persuading everyone to write to the new Minister of Transport to extend the bus recovery grant beyond March; it is up to the politicians to try to persuade the DfT. He noted that their group had been running more Bus Awareness Month events than anywhere else in the country. Regarding changes to the #81, given that these go into effect Monday, it will be necessary to be out on Saturday and Sunday with timetables and to let people know. With respect to the audit ownership of bus shelters, there is much doubt over this, and there are problems of vandalism as well. A series of meetings will be held beginning in January regarding interchanges between buses and trains; there is no arrangement with South Western Railway similar to the one that Great Western Railways has, but the responsible person from GWR would be happy to meet at Yeovil Pen Mill to discuss anything that can be done. The Chair confirmed that he would respond in writing to Peter Travis regarding these matters, and Andrew Ardley added that as Regional Development Manager for South Western Railway he would be happy to help in any way possible regarding the interchanges. He said that they didn’t have the same personnel resources as GWR, but he has started working on station travel plans and would like to assist with developing bus links to rail stations. He noted that he has worked with Great Western Railways, and they could meet with Tony Reese and SCC to develop a joint approach to connections at Yeovil.
Lee Jones, Manager of the SCC In-House Fleet, stated with respect to the #68 that he would like to be involved with any meeting at Pen Mill, because he often gets feedback from the team that’s operating the buses advising that the gates are locked or the locks are being changed.
The Chair advised that SCC had signed the contract to build a junction at Trenchard Way; the junction provides access to the multi-story car park entrance where buses have been impeded from going to the train station to drop off passengers. This work will rectify that problem and should be finished around Easter.
David Redgewell, representing the Campaign for Better Transport, stated that there is a significant issue in the north of the county with driver shortages; they are 150 drivers short in the West of England. There is concern regarding short-notice cancellations of the #376 in Glastonbury-Wells-Street and also Bath and Bristol, as it serves as the main access to those areas for work, college, and shopping. He suggested that the MP of Heart of the South West could push bus driving as a career, and noted that there had been a DfT conference in London about this issue. He also noted that there were problems with the timetables for #173, #174, and #376 services, and asked if joint timetables could be done with First South West.
As regards trains, David Redgewell asked if rail replacement services could be provided when trains go down on South Western Railway, rather than leaving passengers with no connections, and voiced the need for a plan like Great Western Railways has to substitute cancelled trains with buses. The Chair said he will pick up those points and respond in writing. John Perrett pointed out that it is in the domain of the railway companies to make these arrangements and request buses. Andrew Ardley from South Western Railway stated that they use First Transport Solutions to source buses in these situations, but buses simply are not available; even Great Western Railways has some problems with this, due to the national bus driver shortage. He said that they are working with First Transport Solutions to resolve the problem, but despite trying very hard, they cannot get enough drivers.