82 Bus and the disastrous rerouting

20 October 2017


The Green Party has been in correspondence with the Cabinet Member for Highways regarding the series of events which has recently led to the disastrous rerouting of the 82 Bus. Our contention is that a lack of priority for public transport is at the root of the issues, but the Labour Party wants to lay all the blame on the bus operators. Our last email has gone unanswered for over a fortnight:
 
Green Party to Steve Munby 24/09/17:
 
By this time, you will be well aware of the consternation and distress caused to users of the 82 bus as a result of  its being diverted from the most useful parts of the route into town.
 
Various responses have been received from Arriva and Stagecoach to objections made to them.  But so far nothing has been heard from the  council itself.  Local Labour activists have even told me that they are complaining on behalf of bus users  to 'the transport authority' -  seemingly unaware that it is the Council  that is responsible for transport planning, particularly in the case of the 'Quality Bus Partnership' which the 82 bus is still supposed to form part of.
 
In one of their responses, Arriva write
 
'The depot have asked for measures to be put in place to improve the situation but nothing has been done, this is not something the depot would like to do,  however this decision is being imposed upon them.'
 
Who did they 'ask', and by whom was 'nothing done', if not the Council?  By whom is 'this decision being imposed upon them'?
 
Even more alarmingly, I have been told that you are on record as wanting to remove some buses from the City Centre.  The person who told me this said he thought the idea was to reduce pollution.  But if this really is your view, please explain how the increased use of cars to get to parts of the City Centre no longer served by the 82 bus is going to help?
 
If I do not hear from you I will assume your views have been correctly reported, and I will of course make this known in the area.
 
Yours,
 
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Steve Munby to Green Party 24/09/17
 
I attach a letter setting out my views on the 82 which was printed in yesterday’s Echo. I am glad you are interested in my views on transport and emissions. I attach copies of my two most recent written reports to the Neighbourhoods Select Committee, which are available on line.
 
In the June report I include the lines ‘my new responsibilities create the opportunity to review the entire Council fleet and look at broader vehicle emissions in the city centre. Any serious attempt to curb emissions would need to look at the impact of double decker buses and explore greener, cleaner alternatives’.
 
My concern is not so much emissions from double decker buses but their impact on traffic flows generally and thereby congestion and emissions. I think it is worth discussing whether there is a case for double decker buses dropping off passengers at south and north bus stations on the outskirts of the city centre and providing smaller, electric powered buses to provide a free service around the city centre. This would have the merit of substantially reducing the time double decker buses spend in transit – about half their journey time is stuck in city centre traffic – and therefore the frequency and reliability of bus services, particularly for outlying areas. Your Green Party colleague on the Committee made no comment when the idea was aired. There may well be objections in principle and practical terms to the idea, however I think it is worthy of discussion.
 
As I am sure you are aware, despite being the Highways Authority we have no control over the bus companies. I am disappointed, though I confess not surprised that you and your Green Party colleagues appear to be taking the side of the bus companies against the City Council on the issue of the 82. 
 
Best wishes
 
Councillor Steve Munby
 
(Letter to Echo:
 
Bus users are right to be angry about the changes introduced to the 82 bus route, ‘Anger at moves to change bus route’, Echo Tuesday September 19, page 32. There was no consultation with bus users, councillors or the Highways Authority over the changes. Your report states that the aim of the change was ‘to alleviate some of the congestion on Hanover Street’If this were the case the decision to route the 82 down Park Lane on the way into town and along Hanover Street going out of town makes no sense. There is far more congestion on the latter route than the former. If congestion on Hanover Street is the problem why is only the 82 affected and not the 75, 80 and 86?  I have written today to the Regional and Area Managing Directors of Arriva asking for an urgent meeting to discuss the route changes.
 
The way the changes were introduced is unacceptable, but the failure to consult has meant alternative options have not been considered. These include
·         retaining the existing route along Berry Street, Renshaw Street and Hanover Street going into town, but going down Park Lane on the way out;
·         some buses using the old route, some the new route;
·         making changes to Duke Street to promote bus travel along this route, allowing bus passengers to get closer to town.
 
All these options, including the previous service need to be on the table and considered. One could be tempted to accuse the bus companies of sacrificing the travelling public to private profit. But the changes look likely to seriously reduce passenger numbers, so the bus companies may achieve the feat of harming both passengers and their own profits through this ill-considered and poorly managed change.)
 
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Green Party to SM 05/10/17
 
Dear Steve,

Your letter in the Echo is puzzling.  It suggests that you were unaware of the concerns raised with the council by the bus operators over the last couple of years.  Can  this really be the case?

The congestion in Hanover Street seems to have worsened over the past two years because of the new hotels, clubs, bars and restaurants that have opened there, so that the buses are competing for road space with increasing numbers of taxis, private cars and vehicles unloading. 

The bus operators not only asked for 'measures to be put in place',  as they say in their responses to bus users, but indicated what those measures might be - principally enforcement of existing traffic regulations,  and possible further restrictions on private cars.  They even offered to pay for two parking enforcement officers.  To all of this the council made no response. 

Certainly your expressed concern for emissions is laudable, but you appear to suggest that it is public transport that is mainly responsible for these. I do not see any mention in your letter of emissions from cars. You  do seem to have finally become aware that there is a need for a frequent shuttle service to improve connectivity in the centre,  which historically is poor, and will be worse if more bus services are taken off the routes they serve now.  But  you must realise that taking the 82 off its old route before such a link is established is not only disastrous for people without cars, but will  lead to more people using their cars to ge to the centre instead, with a consequent increase in emissions.

To say that the Green Party are 
 'taking the side of the bus companies against the City Council' is disingenuous; we are on the side of public transport and against unnecessary use of private cars in the City Centre. What we want to see  is a bus service so good that no-one will choose to drive in preference to using it.

You say you have 'no control' over the bus companies.  But you do have control over where private cars are allowed to go, and where they are allowed to park.  And enforcing these arrangements is also your responsibility, and you have failed to exercise it. 
 
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We have received no reply to this email






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