Change to Bedford bus timetable makes it 'virtually impossible' to use says frustrated resident

A change to a Bedford bus route means that for one borough resident it's back to the car instead of 'Back to Bus'
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The council was asked by a resident to clarify its position on active travel at yesterday’s Climate Change Committee (Monday, April 11).

Their emailed question to committee said: “Given the council’s policy of promoting active travel, I would like clarification of its position regarding local bus services.

“Before the lockdown, my local bus service Stagecoach 41 ran every half hour, which enabled me to leave the car at home and connect in time with appointments in town.

Bedford Bus StationBedford Bus Station
Bedford Bus Station

“The service was then reduced to hourly, but now runs every hour and a half making it virtually impossible to tie in the bus with timed activities and appointments.

“So it’s back to the car rather than ‘Back to Bus’, where does the council stand on this?” the resident asked.

Bedford mayor, Dave Hodgson, replied that the council doesn’t run the bus services which are, on the whole, commercial services.

“We are working hard with all the bus operators to improve the service offered to Bedford borough residents.

“Whilst commercial decisions are being taken by operators to improve reliability and punctuality, this is being hampered by staff shortages and fuel shortages,” he said.

The council’s portfolio holder for environment, highways and transport councillor Charles Royden (LibDems, Brickhill Ward) said: “I think that public transport is an oxymoron.

“It’s not really public transport, it’s privately owned transport.

“That’s not to say that I’m against our bus operators, I think they work very, very hard.

“As a council, we invest in this enterprise of public transport in a whole variety of ways.

“The last time I looked it was over £1m to subsidise buses so that we can send them out to the villages where people really do need them and to make sure that we can operate these routes,” he said.

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Councillor Royden added that there has been investment in the infrastructure, including bus information display boards at bus shelters. He also said that one of the mayor’s first tasks when he was elected was to tackle the bus station

“So there’s a great investment by the council, but we have to recognise that we don’t run the buses and we don’t choose the routes or the timetables.

“We work very closely with the bus operators to deliver the best service that we can.

“But our hands are very largely tied and until we have a change in the whole structure of how public transport is delivered there’s a limited amount to which we do,” councillor Royden said.

The mayor added: “I would encourage people to use the buses even more than they currently do.

“Pre-pandemic we had one of the biggest increases in miles used by passengers on our network compared to others across the country.

“We’d really want to continue that, but it’s tough times and we will continue to try and work with the bus companies to see if we can improve the service.”

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