14 July 2006

Encouraging bus travel - by taking away the buses?

Odd story on This is Plymouth tonight:
Thirteen school bus services in Plymouth are to be scrapped from September as part of a move to cut child fares.Bus operator Plymouth Citybus has announced plans to slash ticket prices for schoolchildren by about 40 per cent after the school summer holidays.But the firm says it must cut half of its specialist school bus services to find the £100,000 required to provide the new discount. The move has been backed by the city council's Labour administration, which believes that it will encourage more young people to travel to school on buses.But a senior Tory councillor has called the decision 'absolutely outrageous' and urged that the axed school services be reinstated.
The move comes as the council strives to halt a slide in the number of passengers using buses in the city.Councillor Dafydd Williams, Cabinet member for transport and environmental quality, said: "We hope the cheaper fares will encourage young people to use the bus more and help us hit our target to increase bus patronage."I was the council's young people's champion for two years before taking on the transport role, and the first thing that was raised by young people when I met them was that they had to pay adult fares."The majority of families across the city will save money and experience little or no change to their bus services."But Councillor Kevin Wigens, Conservative transport spokesman, criticised the plans.He said: "I think it's an absolutely outrageous decision and it's appalling that a council which purports to support public transport has chosen to decimate the much-needed specialist school services."I thought the object of the exercise was to encourage children to use public transport, but it seems quite evident from this decision that this is not the case.

I am still not sure what to make of this. It does seem strange that when in many areas of the country we are seeing a move towards high quality school bus services with new dedicated buses Plymouth is heading in completely the opposite direction! I guess this will also see off some of the older Volvo double decker buses and the last Atlantean. As a bus enthusiast thats not good either. I have to say that like a few comments on the This is Plymouth site I am not looking forward to having more school children on the normal bus service on the way to work in the morning. That should put off a few more adult paying passengers!

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