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Crowds turn up demanding better bus services

Over 70 people turned up to the Baptist church on Hockliffe street on Saturday 21 July to give their views and ideas on the local buses. South Beds FoE and Beds County Council were delighted with the turn out. Many people had also written in their views.

 

Beds County Council explained that around half the buses within the Leighton Buzzard Town services were commercially run and the rest were subsidised by the County Council which had limited funds. It explained the problems with the network in Leighton Buzzard. On many routes bus patronage had declined and as a result the commercial companies such as Arriva would give notice to remove services and then the County Council would try to plug the gaps out of its limited funds.

 

Bedfordshire County Council were very keen to hear people’s views so that they can provide the best service with the limited funds available. They are keen to know the places that people need to get to, what would make them use the buses more and what would get their friends to use the buses. The more people that use buses then the more money there is to run buses. The county council cannot afford to run empty buses. Grant Palmer and Arriva also explained that the free bus passes to the pensioners meant a considerable increase in bus passengers which was excellent but there was a lack of funding from government to support the extra numbers.

 

Beds CC and South Beds FoE are very concerned that some people felt that they did not have the opportunity to get their views across at the meeting and are urging those people and those who could not attend to phone 01234 228 337 or email businfo@bedscc.gov.uk and express their views.

Nick Cox from Arriva explained the plans when the Linslade Western Bypass opens in September of this year. The number 31 Leighton Buzzard - Luton will be change to the 69 via Hockliffe and 70 via Stanbridge. The 70 will extend through Stoke Hammond to Milton Keynes. The 69 and 70 will be extended to and from Luton Airport  Replacing X15 there will be a new hourly Line 100 service between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes via the new bypass.  There will be an hourly Line 150 between Aylesbury and Leighton Buzzard. There will be 3-4 journeys per day between Leighton Buzzard and Milton Keynes via Heath and Reach, Bletchley and Milton Keynes Hospital.

Grant Palmer stressed their wish to listen to people and to hear their comments, and that information on buses is on their website which is www.grantpalmer.com

 

Many people spoke strongly about the lack of information and lack of reliability. People from Wing complained of the poor service to the railway station and Leighton Buzzard. There was a lot of concern over the changes to the buses in Heath and Reach.

 

Although there were strong feelings and many complaints there was a real enthusiasm to look to the future. People were really keen to be involved and offered really good ideas etc. Although the meeting ended officially at noon, over half an hour later groups of people were still talking to Arriva, Grant Palmer, Beds CC and writing down their comments.

 

Bedfordshire County Council will take very seriously people's views on all the issues. They have taken on board all the comments on lack of information and the concerns over the service to Heath and Reach and are working hard  to resolve both issues. Their intention is to have another public meeting about the bus services in the autumn or winter. They are also keen to engage much more with the community so that the whole bus network can be improved.

 

We (SBFoE) were delighted at the turn out and very pleased that Beds CC have listened to peoples views and are working to improve information on buses and improve the changes to the Heath and Reach. It is really important that we work with the council to improve our bus services. However, buses are really under-funded by the government and it is really important to contact our MP on this issue. It is also crucial to tell our councillor how important bus services are for people to get to and from work, to hospitals to social events etc. Lots of people want to do their bit to help the planet by not using their cars but find that there are no buses or it is impossible to find out about them. It is up to us to make councillors and MPs aware that we want better bus services and up to us to work with the council to ensure that new bus services would be well used.

 

Victoria Harvey, South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth

Tel: 01525 385 097  mobile: 07815 817 108

 

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