Tell us your views for local transport future
Gloucestershire County Council is inviting residents who use public transport across the Forest of Dean to get involved in the future of some bus services.
The council pays for some bus services to get people to work, education, health appointments and to the shops. The council also pays £6.7m each year to cover the cost of free travel bus passes for older people, and for people with disabilities. Ninety per cent of Gloucestershire bus services receive no funding from the council.
Last year, the council spoke to people across the county about less busy bus services that needed to change as part of the council's plans to save £75m over three years. Following the feedback, the county council discussed possible solutions with bus companies. In many cases, the council was able to negotiate deals to make the changes that the most users wanted.
With a small amount of services, the council wasn't able to get the preferred option at a cost it could afford, so is now looking for other options.
Across the Forest there are three sets of services that the council is speaking to bus users about. The focus is to find out which options would work best for residents and commuters, what option they prefer, and any extra information to help make the service user friendly.
Because so few people are using the services, in some cases the council is spending over £15 per passenger on every return journey. The agreed subsidy cap is £8.
The first services being considered are evening and Sunday services on 30/31 and 23/24 between Gloucester - Cinderford - Coleford and Gloucester - Lydney - Coleford.
Day time journeys run are commercial and the council currently pays about £60,000 per year for evening and Sunday journeys which are used by an average of 221 to 244 people per day. The three options are:
- Option 1 - remove late evening services
- Option 2 - remove Sunday services
- Option 3 - only run late evening services (after 8pm) on Fridays and Saturdays, and a reduced service on Sundays
The second set of services up for consultation is the Coleford area shopper services 701, 707, 709, 738. At the minute, these services cost £36,000 per year, used by an average of 21 people per day. The two options being considered are:
- Option 1 - Combine route 709 and part of 738, linking Symonds Yat, Christchurch, Worrall Hill, Upper Lydbrook and Joys Green into Coleford. Ruardean, Crooked End and Ruardean Woodside are covered by existing alternative bus routes. The new service would operate one day a week, allowing around two hours in Coleford. The 701 service would also operate on one day a week into Coleford and then onto Chepstow on the current 707 route. This would allow around two hours in both Coleford and Chepstow.
- Option 2 - Withdraw service 701 and add Newland onto the start of the existing 707 route to Chepstow on one day a week. Operate the existing route 738 one day a week, but diverting via Christchurch instead of Mile End on the outward journey. Withdraw service 709.
The third set of services being looked at is the Newent area shopper services 643, 678, 679, 677 - which currently cost the council around £40,000 per year and are used by an average of 16 to 20 people per day. There are two options being looked at:
- Option 1 - Combine routes 677 and 678 operating one return shopper journey one day a week to Gloucester. Onslow Road will be served by other services. The early morning and late afternoon journeys on the 678 service will be withdrawn. Services 643 and 679 would also be reduced to one day a week.
- Option 2 - as above but the new route combining 677 and 678 would operate into Newent instead of Gloucester
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: "We are working hard to find ways to protect the key bus services that people in the Forest rely on. If we can find ways to do that more cheaply, it helps us to protect them into the future. I hope bus users and local residents will take part in the consultation and tell us what they think."
The consultation is open until 22nd July. Representatives will be on buses talking to service users and collecting feedback. The survey will also available on line at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/bussurvey. Paper copies of the surveys can be made available on request.