County Council bus plans – ACE submits its comments

ACE Transport Group

Consultation on North Yorkshire County Council for improvements to bus services in the County closed on 7 February as reported at ACE has submitted its response (see below) which was drawn up by its transport working group. The county wide feedback will be reported to the council’s executive who meet next month.

The county council says that the Bus Service Improvement Plan sets out proposals to transform bus services across the county by making buses more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, better co-ordinated and cheaper. The plan is dependent on funding from the Department for Transport and is in response to the Government’s National Bus Strategy, which aims to transform bus services with the aim of encouraging more people to choose to travel by bus. If supported by government funding, changes could start in April.

ACE’s response is based upon the outcomes of its recent community survey about local transport options. ACE distributed 2,500 surveys (targeting 7,500 residents) over September and October 2020 and received over 700 responses (28% return rate).

ACE’s response:

*Bus Timetables are not integrated with train timetable and 9-5 work patterns. This is particularly frustrating for commuters travelling from Settle to/from Skipton. People want more frequent bus services too.

*Bus Routes. The service to some relatively near communities is a waste of time as residents are not able to get back from where they might want to go. On the other hand, is it the best use of buses to shadow train services to Skipton. These buses are mostly running for the convenience of pass holders who would otherwise have to pay for using the train.

*Ticket Fares. Strongly support for reviewing the national bus pass scheme so that fares were more equitable. A better solution might be similar to the National Senior Rail Card scheme, offering a generous discount rather than unlimited free travel.

*DRT (Demand Responsive Transport) Services – ACE would not wish to see scheduled services replaced by DRT, but recognise that there are opportunities for using the DRT model to extend the existing routes and frequency of services in Craven.

*Very little mention of Craven – despite the objective ‘through our bus services, we will raise the profile of North Yorkshire as a place to live, visit, work and invest in’. Funding constraints are appreciated for this pot; and as there will be others, it would be good to see more ambition in this Enhanced Plan. Chicken and egg – no or few buses means no demand stimulated.

*Isolation. The high percentage of car-owners who use community transport services reminds us that residents can still feel isolated and lonely even if they have a car to go places. Public transport has a social dimension too:  it is an important factor in social cohesion and resilience. Get the level of services and integration with other transport nodes right and the greater economic and community objectives should follow. This will be particularly important as the cost of car ownership continues to rise and switching to electric is beyond many people’s budgets.

Photo: North Yorkshire County Council web site.

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