I have been on buses in other towns and cities a lot of late. One thing I have noted is that people sit in their seats until the bus has come to a halt at a stop. This doesn’t happen much in Ludlow. Passengers in our town, many elderly, stand up well before the bus stop despite the “Stopping” sign having been illuminated. This is dangerous and completely unnecessary. Passengers should remain seated until the bus comes to a halt at the stop. It is time to ditch this dangerous habit. We don’t want anyone injured. We want our bus services to run smoothly for the benefit for everyone in our community.
Doom and gloom have surrounded the rural bus network for many years as services are relentlessly cut back or axed altogether. But every now and again, there a glimmer of hope.
With thanks to work by Bus Users Shropshire, Lugg Valley Motors will be introducing an improved 490 bus service between Ludlow and Leominster and onwards to Hereford from next Monday, 2 September. The service calls at Overton Touring Park, Richard’s Castle, Orleton and Luston. The new timetable adds additional services to and from Ludlow on weekdays and Saturdays, and the bus will call at Ludlow School on schooldays.
The service is subsidised by Herefordshire Council. Shropshire Council does not contribute.
Welcome to Shropshire in 2019. Severn Trent Water arrived without notice to block off the Bullring at the top of Corve Street just after 9am this morning. The work was declared an emergency so no notice was given to Shropshire Council or anyone else. But it was only a leaky stopcock. Buses stopped. People missed their trains. I learnt that the only way that one bit of Shropshire Highways can contact another bit of Shropshire Highways is to ring the customer call centre and wait for up to forty minutes to get connected. You couldn’t make it up.
After two-and-a-half hours the blockade was lifted. Despite the disruption. no work had been done whatsoever. Things can only get better. But I am not holding my breath.
The mood is changing on buses. For many years, rural bus services have been cut back. They are threatened with more cuts as council finances dwindle. Now Shropshire Council has said it will roll back some of the planned bus cuts after a consultation produced an unprecedented response from bus users. But the council still lacks an up to date bus strategy and a plan for long term investment in the bus network.
Bus campaigners are stepping into the gap. At the end of last month, the Foundation for Integrated Transport (FIT) has published a report on Shropshire Rural Buses. The author, Professor John Whitelegg says failure is embedded in the current system and change is now necessary. His report concludes:
“It is in fact very easy indeed to provide high quality rural public transport in a way that supports vibrant, healthy, economically successful rural communities and contributes to keeping young people in those communities.”
That’s ambitious. But why shouldn’t we be ambitious for the future of buses? It is time to halt the endless cutbacks and invest in the county’s bus networks.
On 12 June, the Cabinet agreed the following:
Local Bus Services
- To not implement the reduction or removal of services as consulted, but where the consultation feedback has highlighted genuine efficiencies or cost pressures those will be focussed upon.
- To amend the Council’s 2019/20 budget and reduce the planned reduction in the public transport budget from £405,000 to £180,000.
Future Public Transport Services
- To commence a review of the current operation and future opportunities for, improved public transport services across Shropshire, including reviewing concessionary travel and the opportunities for bus franchising.
The Cabinet also recommended increases on some Shrewsbury park and ride charges but deferred other increases until they have been reviewed.