Public transport proposals revised following consultation
Posted on: 2 June 2015
More than half of public transport passenger trips planned to be cut in Devon are now proposed to be restored, following widespread public consultation.
Devon County Council had originally planned to reduce passenger trips by almost 400,000 this year to save £1.7 million, but it is now proposing to reduce this to just under 170,000 after talking to communities across the county.
Out of a total 4.5 million annual passenger trips on all of Devon’s supported services – it means that over 96% of passenger trips on Devon’s supported network would carry on unaffected by the revised proposals being put to Devon County Council’s Cabinet next week (Wed 10 June).
Following a 12 week public consultation earlier this year, in which more than 2,600 questionnaire responses were received along with a number of other letters, e-mail and petitions, a number of amendments have been made to the proposals while still achieving the necessary savings.
Among the revised proposals, it is recommended that there are no reductions to Service 9 Barnstaple to Bishops Tawton, Service 55/56 Tavistock to Walkhampton, Service 55B Exeter to Tiverton, Service 98 Tavistock to Yelverton, Service 157 Exmouth to Sidmouth, Service 162 Kingsbridge to Loddiswell, Service 367 Honiton, Service 391/392/393 Seaton, Service 658 West Buckland to Barnstaple, and Service 898 Ashburton.
Stagecoach will continue to operate a half-hourly service of the Service D, Exeter to Digby, on Saturdays on a commercial basis.
The £100,000 Community Transport Fund set aside by the County Council will continue to be spent on bus service support and will gradually transfer to community groups as and when community-based initiatives are established. Funding will be used to retain town services in Crediton and Ottery St Mary two days a week, and a daily shopping-time service on Service T to Topsham Quay for the remainder of the current financial year so as to give community groups further time to consider taking on these routes.
In partnership with Dartmoor National Park Authority, instead of withdrawal, the Haytor Hopper (Service 271) will continue with a shorter summer season from May to September, instead of the current arrangement from April to October.
The evening services on Service 5 Exeter to Crediton, Service P Exeter and 8E Barnstaple to Roundswell are now proposed to continue in their entirety, the Sunday services on Service 39 Exeter to Newton Abbot are proposed to be saved, while evening and Sunday services on service 70/77 Newton Abbot to Highweek and Service 99E Exmouth to Brixington are also recommended to continue.
As an alternative to withdrawal, a reduced evening service is recommended to continue on Service 1 Exeter to Tiverton, and a reduced Sunday service is proposed on Service X38 Exeter to Plymouth.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took part on the formal consultation process as well as our officers tasked with going through the feedback. We have held a thorough consultation which resulted in over 2,600 responses and, as promised, we have had a good look through all of the comments received and taken everything into account.
“This is the first time that we have proposed making public transport service reductions for four years, and a budget reduction of this magnitude is impossible to implement without some impact. However, we are fulfilling our commitment not to leave any communities entirely isolated, and the revised proposals reduce the number of affected passenger trips from 400,000 to just under 170,000 which means that 96% of passenger trips on our supported network will carry on unaffected.”
A number of service cuts are recommended as originally proposed, including withdrawing financial support for Service 11/75 Tavistock to Barnstaple (Sundays), Service 82 Exeter to Tavistock, Service 90B at Dartmouth, Service 187 Okehampton to Gunnislake, Service 675 Holcombe Rogus to Exeter, Service 684 Dalwood to Honiton, as well as Fare Car F9 in the Tiverton area, Fare Car F12 in the Okehampton area and Fare car F17 in the Kingsbridge area.
Proposed journey reductions are recommended to be carried out on Service 7 Exmouth, Service 16 Bideford, Service 91 Totnes to Plymouth, Service 184 Newton Abbot to Teignmouth, Service 347 Cheriton Fitzpaine to Crediton, Service 366 Exeter to Kenn, and Service 368 Broadhembury to Honiton.
The withdrawal of services for non-entitled school pupils is recommended to proceed, as it is not part of the Council’s statutory provision.
Councillors are being recommended to reduce funding for Shopmobility on a phased basis, with the aim of making schemes self-sustaining, possibly using external funding.
In response to comments made during the consultation, it is recommended that proposed changes to free travel using the National Bus Pass before 9:30am and after 11pm are not implemented from 1 April 2016.
Councillors are being recommended to refer the revised proposals to the County Council’s Place Scrutiny Committee, prior to final decisions being made by Cabinet at a later date.
Devon County Council supports nearly 200 public bus services, carrying around 4.5 million passengers every year. It also manages the National Bus Pass Scheme for 175,000 pass holders in Devon, which costs the County Council more than £9 million every year.
The County Council’s consultation attracted both online and paper responses to the questionnaire. Focus groups were also held with local organisations supporting people with disabilities, older people, younger people, carers and people with mental health issues.
A large number of responses to the consultation suggested that Devon should request payment for the first issue of a National Bus Pass or to request that passengers pay a contribution to the bus fare. However, the County Council can only administer the National Bus Pass according to statutory legislation contained in the Concessionary Travel Act 2007, and it would require an act of Parliament to alter the legislation governing the scheme.
The Cabinet report and full list of revised service recommendations are available here.
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