Plan for bus network in Swindon raises fear for elderly

Swindon Advertiser: The Swindon Older People’s Forum is seeking reassurances over Swindon Borough Council’s plan to create a wholly commercial bus network. Pictured are Stephanie Burrows, Dave Brown and Carol Brownlee Buy this photo » The Swindon Older People’s Forum is seeking reassurances over Swindon Borough Council’s plan to create a wholly commercial bus network. Pictured are Stephanie Burrows, Dave Brown and Carol Brownlee

A GROUP representing older people is concerned about Swindon Council’s plans to create a fully commercial bus network across the borough.

In October, cabinet approved the basic principles for creating a new local bus strategy, which will see the council and bus operators working together to ensure the network is sustainable in the long term.

Swindon Council commissioned the bus strategy because it says the network is facing increasing pressure from various issues.

These include the hike in fuel prices, Government cuts concessionary fares, the end of subsidies for some services, the council tax freeze and the move to cut a grant that provides a rebate on fuel duty for bus operators.

But the Swindon Older People’s Forum, a group sponsored by the charities Age UK and Community Service Volunteers, is concerned the drive for profitability could over-ride social needs, exacerbating loneliness among the elderly.

OAPS generally get free travel.

The organisation is also advocating the establishment of a borough-wide transport forum, where the views of all providers and users of transport services could be discussed.

This would help filling gaps, through the public, private, community or voluntary sectors.

Chairman David Brown said: “We want the current level of service maintained in an ideal world.

“It may be that, in political reality, they cannot do that.

“If that’s not possible then I think what the council and the community generally should think about is ‘How can we fill these gaps that the private bus companies cannot provide?’ “And without some sort of forum and way to debate things, it’s hard to do it.”

Mr Brown said if there were cuts, it could compound elderly people’s social isolation and loneliness, which would jeopardise Swindon Council’s ambition to manage care costs by encouraging independent living and re-ablement.

He said: “If you reduce transport options or the ability of people to get out and engage and get involved themselves in activities, by cutting their bus service, then it’s going to be counter-productive.”

The group was one of just 30 organisations or individuals to comment in the public consultation on the bus strategy.

Several members turned up to the Civic Offices on Wednesday night make their points during the Cabinet Open Forum.

Coun Keith Williams, the cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, said: “One thing people don’t realise is around 95 per cent of our current network is commercial, so we’re talking about quite a small amount.

“The majority of the population is in the Swindon urban area.

“The impact of the move to a more commercial bus service would have more effect on the rural communities.

“What we’re looking at is link services, other forms of transport to make sure people get through to the bus network.”

Council leader Rod Bluh, said the authority recognised that isolation was not helpful in keeping people independent for longer and would try to avoid unintended consequences.

Comments (4)

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7:20am Fri 8 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

If you dont have the money, you dont have the money, sadly some things will suffer under the cuts. and why shouldnt they have a fully commercial bus service. OAP's already get free or reduced cost travel they cant run the service at a loss too thats a double cost. I think everyone will be hit in one way or another beacuse this council have no idea how to run an effecient value for money service and waste so much in so many ways. Bring in someone who understands just how to provide the best service, get rid of the wasteful consultants and partners, and run it like a proper business, that would release enough money not to have to cut anything if they stopped wasting so much.
If you dont have the money, you dont have the money, sadly some things will suffer under the cuts. and why shouldnt they have a fully commercial bus service. OAP's already get free or reduced cost travel they cant run the service at a loss too thats a double cost. I think everyone will be hit in one way or another beacuse this council have no idea how to run an effecient value for money service and waste so much in so many ways. Bring in someone who understands just how to provide the best service, get rid of the wasteful consultants and partners, and run it like a proper business, that would release enough money not to have to cut anything if they stopped wasting so much. house on the hill

9:51am Fri 8 Feb 13

StillPav says...

http://ww5.swindon.g

ov.uk/moderngov/ieLi

stDocuments.aspx?MId

=3899

In the link above, it states Dial-a-ride received funding of £317,000 in 2010/2011.

If you assume an average taxi journey costs £6, the Dial-a-ride budget would buy 52,833 trips, equivalent to 144 per day.

Are you telling me Dial-a-ride have 144 passengers every day of the year?

Therefore the solution is simple. Tender a block of journeys to local taxi companies and distribute them to elderly people who cannot use public transport due to disability or location.
http://ww5.swindon.g ov.uk/moderngov/ieLi stDocuments.aspx?MId =3899 In the link above, it states Dial-a-ride received funding of £317,000 in 2010/2011. If you assume an average taxi journey costs £6, the Dial-a-ride budget would buy 52,833 trips, equivalent to 144 per day. Are you telling me Dial-a-ride have 144 passengers every day of the year? Therefore the solution is simple. Tender a block of journeys to local taxi companies and distribute them to elderly people who cannot use public transport due to disability or location. StillPav

2:16pm Fri 8 Feb 13

swindonman89 says...

i think that concessionary is abused very very often they will travel 1 or 2 stop's or giving there cards too there friends to use.
there should be a contribution charge not even half the fare maybe 40p this will reduce alot of these problems.
i think that concessionary is abused very very often they will travel 1 or 2 stop's or giving there cards too there friends to use. there should be a contribution charge not even half the fare maybe 40p this will reduce alot of these problems. swindonman89

5:36pm Fri 8 Feb 13

rmc001 says...

swindonman89 wrote:
i think that concessionary is abused very very often they will travel 1 or 2 stop's or giving there cards too there friends to use.
there should be a contribution charge not even half the fare maybe 40p this will reduce alot of these problems.
Giving their cards for their friends to use? I thought they had their photographs on them. I imagine if you charged them to use the buses, the chances are they wouldn't bother using them at all, and the bus firm would have even less income. Problem with our bus services the way they are is that for most journeys you need to catch more than one bus, and who wants to stand in a freezing cold bus shelter at this time of the year?
[quote][p][bold]swindonman89[/bold] wrote: i think that concessionary is abused very very often they will travel 1 or 2 stop's or giving there cards too there friends to use. there should be a contribution charge not even half the fare maybe 40p this will reduce alot of these problems.[/p][/quote]Giving their cards for their friends to use? I thought they had their photographs on them. I imagine if you charged them to use the buses, the chances are they wouldn't bother using them at all, and the bus firm would have even less income. Problem with our bus services the way they are is that for most journeys you need to catch more than one bus, and who wants to stand in a freezing cold bus shelter at this time of the year? rmc001

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