Serving the Cotswolds
After listening to residents' feedback, Gloucestershire County Council is making changes to bus route 77 from 20th November.
Changes were made to the service in August this year, but feedback has suggested that people felt there were not enough journeys on the route, or enough links to Swindon services.
As a result, there will now be more journeys through to Highworth and better connections in Cirencester on the service 77 and a new service 76 focussed on serving the villages. Links will be kept to villages but some of these journeys will be less frequent to make sure that buses keep to timetable.
The council has also had comments about service 50 running on time. To deal with this, the service has been reduced in length so it keeps better time, but communities that were on the route will be served by service 76 or 77 instead.
Throughout the county, there are some other services where the demand from bus users is not enough to cover the cost of running the services.
The cost per passenger of subsidising some services in this way is very high, so changes need to be made to make them affordable. The council has been considering different ways to do this in the Cotswolds following feedback from a public consultation held last year.
The council has an agreed target subsidy cap of £8 per return passenger journey for rural routes, and £2 per return journey on urban routes in Cheltenham and Gloucester.
The subsidy per passenger on some routes in the Cotswolds, such as services 809 and 810, is as high as £30 per return trip, which is well above the £8 per journey target subsidy cap.
Service 802 has been running since September last year to a new timetable which serves the housing development in Upper Rissington. Some journeys have never been used, or only once or twice so these journeys will be stopped. That will allow the bus to run more reliably to time. It also means the council can invest in promoting the service to residents of the Victory Fields development with some personalised travel planning work. This will include looking at sustainable transport options, such as using a bus, cycling, or walking.
The council also funds some services to villages two or three times a week in the Cotswolds, so that people can travel to nearby towns for shopping.
Some of these buses only carry one or two people, so the council is looking at alternative travel arrangements. Therefore, services 809 and 810 are being withdrawn. Some communities are already covered by the new 802 service, whilst others are covered by the villager buses.
Other services are going from two or three days a week to one day per week because very few people use them. The 803 and 804 will run on Tuesday only and the early and late journey on the 804 will no longer run. We are investing in some local community based interventions with local parish councils to ensure that the few users of this service can still get to and from work. The county council is looking for personalised solutions for users of service 804, who commute to work in Cheltenham.
The 832 will run on a Wednesday only, from Withington to Andoversford.
The county council has spoken to bus users who know that their services are underused.
In addition to bus services, Cotswold Friends provide community transport for those who are in need, whether it is to get to a hospital appointment, see family, or even a trip to the shops. They are available from 9.30am - 1.30pm, Monday to Friday and can be contacted on 01608 651115.
These changes will all take place on 14th November, except for the 76 and 77, which will happen the following week.
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: "We've listened to what people in Gloucestershire who use buses like the 77 service in Cotswolds are saying. We're working really hard to find ways to save money, whilst protecting and improving services - and the changes in the Cotswolds are a good example of that.