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Facing a long walk as Swindon's GWH bus is axed
Thamesdown Transport is making a raft of changes from January to make the network more commercially viable, including cutting the 30 service that runs from Fleming Way through Walcot East and Cavendish Square to the hospital.
For journeys to the hospital, the bus operator and Swindon Council say passengers should walk to catch the service 16 at New College, or the service 12 along Queen’s Drive, or take a trip into the town centre on the services 2,17 or 18, then take the service 16.
The decision, which follows discussions with the council and hospital trust, comes ahead of the publication of a borough-wide bus strategy, and has been made because section 106 subsidies that were provided to support various hospital buses since it opened 10 years ago will come to an end in December.
Residents say the decision further restricts access to GWH, especially for elderly patients who cannot walk long distances and are still struggling from a move in January to alter the service 18, which ran between Fleming Way and GWH, so it stopped at Park South.
Carol Brownlee, a committee member of the Swindon Walcot and Parks (SWAP) community group, said it might force the elderly and/or disabled to use patient transport services, which might not be available to them, to pay for a taxi, or have the hassle of taking two bus rides.
She said: “It’s the more vulnerable of the population in this area, which is classed as a deprived area, who then either have to seek the Medicar – a voluntary car-driven service – to get to the hospital, to get to appointments, or to pay for a taxi.
“Or if, for example, you are a single parent with two children, you’ve got to go down to New College to pick up the 16 to go to hospital, which if you’ve got a couple of children in tow, is quite a fair walk if you live at the other end of the estate.”
Daphne Pook, 74, a great-grandmother of Buckhurst Crescent, East Walcot, said: “What if you are disabled with a walking stick and a bad back? That’s quite a walk from Walcot up to Queen’s Drive. You’ve got to walk all the way up Frobisher.”
Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Eldene, Liden and South park) organised a meeting at St John’s Church, Cavendish Square, yesterday for residents to discuss the issue with Coun Keith Williams, the cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport.
He said: “While the council invested money to save the number 21 bus service for the people of Coleview and Penhill, the elderly and disabled people in my ward have been let down by recent bus service cuts and this new announcement only adds to their disappointment.”
Coun Williams said: “The area itself has been very, very well served by buses for a long time and I think it’s a case of the time has come that there needs to be a balance in order to maintain a sustainable level of bus service in the area.
“They can change in the centre or go to Queen’s Drive to get a direct service in, but we cannot realistically expect the bus service to give you a door-to-door service.”