Bus changes protect V route, increase journeys and bus size
Gloucestershire County Council's cabinet will discuss changes to local bus services in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury as part of a bid to make £75million savings over the next three years.
Following public consultation, the council is looking to protect the popular V route, by merging it with the P and Q routes. This will allow larger buses to be used, addressing overcrowding, and for Saturday services to be run for the first time.
The recommendations come following a public consultation on council-funded public transport which received over 3,200 responses. There were 53 responses on proposals for the V, with most backing the proposed change.
Council-funded buses are used for 10 per cent of all bus journeys in the county, with the other 90 per cent made on services operated by bus companies without subsidy.
Cabinet are being asked to consider a range of proposals next Wednesday, which you can view here. The recommendations will look to make changes, maintain or redesign services, based on what alternatives are available, including community transport, with a view to finding savings to help protect crucial council services elsewhere.
In Cheltenham the V service is being recommended to merge with services P and Q to offer more capacity to those travelling from the Cleevemount Estate at busy times, as well as providing a later afternoon journey for users of services P and Q. The consultation found that the public were in favour of merging service V with P and Q to maintain a similar frequency, whilst increasing bus size used on the service. Although the preference for service P and Q was no change, the merger allows a later journey, as well as a combined saving of £20,000 a year by merging the two.
Further work to look at services to Swindon Village, including Sundays, is being recommended. Currently services cost over £70,000 per year and are no longer affordable and further work is needed. We will consult residents on introducing a redesigned service from September.
A new arrangement for the part of the H bus service running between Wyman's Brook and Swindon Village in Cheltenham is being recommended. Currently it costs over £70,000 per year and is no longer affordable. Further work is needed to decide on the best option. In the meantime, the current H service will continue. A redesigned service will aim to reduce the cost of service from the current level.
The consultation found that a majority of people were keen to see a direct service on the Tewkesbury - Maisemore - Gloucester service 351 which is too expensive to run. Cabinet are being asked to consider a redesign and further consultation providing people with the chance to have more say in how they want their transport service to run. One option could be from September, to combine the service with school journeys so that there will be peak time journeys for work and school, while outside these hours, feeder services will be offered between the villages and Tewkesbury and to Hartpury College, connecting with buses to Gloucester. This could give an estimated £45,000 saving per year.
Due to newer services, there are also recommendations of changes to bus journeys across Bishop's Cleeve to make further savings.
There is currently considerable duplication in the area of Bishop's Cleeve so the recommendation will be to stop the Bishop's Cleeve - Woodmancote - Cheltenham service 527 in favour of two newer services, W1 and W2, which provide an hourly service between Cheltenham and Winchcombe via Southam, Woodmancote, Bishop's Cleeve and Gotherington. Two buses per hour serve between Homelands and Bishop's Cleeve alongside the Bishop's Cleeve Tewkesbury service T. The W1 and W2 will be rerouted to serve Two Hedges Road in place of the 527 bus. The overall savings to Gloucestershire County Council of this recommendation could be up to £60,000 per year.
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: "We've listened to what people in Gloucestershire who use buses like the V service are saying. We're working really hard to find ways to save money, whilst protecting and improving services - and the changes in Cheltenham are a good example of that."