RESPONSE TO STAGECOACH’S PLANS TO CUT BUS SERVICES ACROSS RUGBY
Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) would like to make the following observations on the very recent announcement by Stagecoach to cut back on local bus services:
This announcement was made through one local media outlet (Rugby Advertiser) on Thursday January 2nd, with the consultation deadline set for Sunday January 5th. To allow just three days for consultation on such a wide range of proposed changes is simply outrageous and shows a complete disregard for passenger and public opinion. We ask that the consultation period be extended by at least two weeks
These proposals by Stagecoach will, in our view, further decimate our local bus services which have already suffered massive cuts in recent years. We would like to remind Stagecoach of the following:
Like all private bus companies, Stagecoach receives subsidies from Warwickshire County Council to operate less profitable routes, often in rural areas where running a route is more expensive or less lucrative for companies – the very areas affected most by these proposed cuts
In exchange for these state subsidies, bus operators like Stagecoach are required to meet specific local standards, including better transport connections
Central Government policy on local public transport, as expressed in the Bus services Act 2017, includes the stated aim of the need to improve bus services for passengers by providing local authorities, the Secretary of State and bus operators with a new toolkit to enable improvements to be made to bus services in their areas. These proposals fly in the face of such an aim
This Act goes on to suggest that these better bus networks would be to serve more or different locations, and, in doing so, provide services that are more accessible for passengers with disabilities. These proposed cuts make this less likely and thus undermine equal access policies.
The loss of a local bus service, particularly in rural areas, can leave people isolated or dependent on friends and family to help them travel. Such cuts hit the elderly, infirm and vulnerable disproportionately
In terms of the specific proposed changes being suggested by Stagecoach, we are very concerned by the following suggestions:
Route 3A from Wentworth Rd to Rugby at 20.13/20.24 (return);
Route 4 from Clifton Rd to Brownsover at 18.01;
Route D1 from DIRFT to Daventry at 23.10 and Eliot’s Field to Rugby at 19.10
“Improved reliability”, as Stagecoach put it, is a euphemism for cutting bus services if they do not make enough profits, even though bus transport is supposed to be a public service subsidised by the State. Bus services in the Rugby area already been cut to the bone, especially in the evenings, and, if implemented, these additional suggested cuts will further disadvantage ordinary working people, especially in areas of the greatest need for public transport including Hillmorton, Newbold, Brownsover, Long Lawford and Wolston.
We call upon Stagecoach to reverse these planned cuts and enter into talks with Warwickshire County Council to improve local bus services
Pete McLaren, Secretary, Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 05/01/2020