It’s getting desperate on the buses. At the beginning of lockdown, the Ludlow town bus service was cut from 30 trips a day to six. The 701 and 722 services were combined. The park and ride service shuddered to a halt. The bus still served the Eco Park but there were no park and ride customers. Why would anyone want to use a service that was at best hourly and had a three hour gap over lunch. There is no park and ride service in the country that is so badly served.
From today, Monday, there will be two extra runs on the single town bus route, at 11am and 4pm. That gives eight buses a day with a two hour gap at lunchtime. This is inadequate. It means the park and ride will still be unusable for visitors to our town. The low frequency still won’t serve the needs of residents. But I fear this will be the future of Ludlow bus services while Shropshire Council sees our town’s bus services as a cost not a public benefit.
We are asking you to lobby Shropshire Council’s portfolio holder for transport, Steve Davenport, to get normal services reinstated. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shropshire Council has long seemed unaware of how important bus services are to rural towns. Particularly towns with a high proportion of households without vehicles and a high proportion of elderly residents. Towns like Ludlow.
I fear that the reduction in bus services will become permanent. We will be left with an hourly service with along convoluted route that takes park and ride users 30 minutes to travel one mile as the crow flies. A service at this level is be an embarrassment to our town. An embarrassment to our county. A failure to support rural communities and their visitors.
It is notable how little the portfolio holder for transport Steve Davenport has had to say about buses outside Shrewsbury. Viv Parry challenged him last Wednesday on why bus services were not being reinstated. He replied: “With social distancing the companies are running out of equipment.” I can’t make head or tail of that. We have no shortage of buses to serve Ludlow. We have a shortage of political interest and willpower to get buses back on the road again.
The extreme reduction of bus services in Ludlow has meant that many people are concerned about hopping on board. They think there won’t be enough social distancing if the buses are busy. They go by taxi instead or just stop at home. A return to the normal frequency of bus services will give people the confidence that when they need a bus, there will be a bus. And they can be confident that buses will not be overcrowded.
We need to get back to normal in Ludlow. Social distancing is the new normal. We must have confidence in our bus services. We must have a reliable park and ride service.
That’s why we are asking bus users, residents and traders to write to the Shropshire Council’s portfolio for transport asking for a full reinstatement of services in Ludlow. You can contact Steve Davenport at email@example.com.