FIT strategy for Shropshire buses published as mood changes against bus cuts

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.

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It’s time Shropshire Council and the police commissioner stopped window dressing on road safety and took determined action

Shropshire Council has teamed up with the West Mercia police commissioner to launch a road safety initiative. A free driver awareness course is on offer. A drop-in session will be held at Ludlow Mascall Centre on Monday 8 July, 5pm to 7pm. Details of the Road Focus sessions.

Anything that might improve road safety is important. But the record of the council and commissioner on road safety initiatives is poor. Neither supports a 20mph limit on all residential streets in the county. Safety schemes outside schools have been delayed indefinitely.

If we slow traffic in an already slow county, we will reduce both the risk and severity of injury. That would achieve more than four drop-in sessions and a single awareness course. This sadly looks like little more than a PR exercise from a council and commissioner that want to show they are working on road safety without investing in making our roads safer.

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Today is the last day to give your views on Shropshire Council’s unsustainable slash and burn cuts to bus services

Shropshire Council has been consulting on drastic cuts to local bus services. The council is only concerned with saving £455,000 – plus an unspecified saving on concessionary fares. This is a slash and burn exercise driven by a council that doesn’t have a strategy for the future of public transport in the county.

The proposals will cut Bishop’s Castle off except for the school run. It is bad news for sustainable transport in Shrewsbury with a substantial hike in park and ride costs. In Ludlow, the popular 701 town service will be cut by a third.

These cuts will disproportionately disadvantage older and vulnerable people, along with those of limited mobility. Shropshire Council has failed to assess the impact of the cuts on people, communities and the environment.

Buses are a social service. By providing access to medical, retail and social facilities, they promote health and wellbeing. That lowers costs elsewhere in public sector, including the care sector and the NHS.

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Dodgy pedestrian crossing between Aldi and Tesco on Station Drive is to be fixed

Thank you everyone who has reported the problem with the pedestrian controlled lights outside Aldi on Station Drive. This is a busy crossing that links our two supermarkets together.

But it hasn’t operated properly for several weeks. Previously the lights changed fairly quickly and people got used to that. Now, they take around fifteen seconds to change. The problem has been caused by roadworks by Western Power Distribution last year disrupting sensors. Shropshire Council says it is going to get it fixed as a priority.

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Ludlow’s Corve Street to be properly resurfaced in February with three Sunday closures

Corve Street was resurfaced by Shropshire Council’s former contractors, Ringway, in 2017. It was a very poor quality job that began to fail within weeks. It was immediately clear that the road would have be resurfaced. That work will now take place on three consecutive Sundays, 10th, 17th and 24th February. The work is timed to be least damaging to local trade, the visitor economy and buses.

I am glad this work is going ahead. It will be disruptive but Corve Street will be much the better for it.

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