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Axed bus route users speak out
1:00pm Sunday 27th October 2013 in News
RESIDENTS of Blunsdon unhappy at the slashing of a regular bus service to the Orbital Centre will have an opportunity to put alternative suggestions to the bus company.
A meeting was held on Thursday night between villagers and Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure, to discuss the removal of bus service 12 in Blunsdon.
That route ran direct to the Orbital but Thamesdown Transport, which, although owned by the council, is run as an arms-length company, replaced it with the 24 service which goes directly into the town centre.
Many residents, especially pensioners, now say they are trapped by the changes as the vital services they use are at the Orbital.
Coun Williams, who as a councillor was not part of the decision to remove the service, said low usage of the buses meant it was not financially viable to keep it in operation.
Barbara Carlson, 61, from Blunsdon, is concerned the bus changes have already left many people feeling trapped.
She said: “The Orbital has an Asda, a doctor, a library and lots of other stores. A lot of people rely on those stores.
“For many people who are elderly and live alone the chance to get out and about two or three times a week is very important.
“We have been told we can use the Tesco store on the route but the Orbital is perfect because everything is close together.
“Several people are saying they haven’t seen certain people for several days because they are not venturing out.”
Barbara says while she is not convinced much will come of the suggestions, she and her family will put them forward.
She said: “My daughter came up with an idea involving a route in the north but Thamesdown Transport did not want to know. I’ll be sitting down and coming up with several so it’ll be interesting to see what they have to say.
“As there are already three services running the 24 route, it has been set up to fail. We were told the buses needed to be profitable but how can this one be?”
Coun Williams said: “I know this is a difficult situation but not enough people were using the service to make it financially worth it so a commercial decision was made.
“There is the number 24 service for which the council provide a subsidy of £20,000. If Thamesdown were to fit Blunsdon into the current timetable it would cost almost £130,000, which the council cannot afford.
“One thing I heard at the meeting was the service had been set up to fail and having spoken with Thamesdown I know this is not the case.
”The parish council will now collect a list of suggestions which we can take to Thamesdown. It is possible they may not like the response but at least they will have definitive reasons.”
Paul Jenkins, managing director of Thamesdown Transport, said: “Unfortunately the route between Blunsdon and North Swindon was not used by enough people to make it commercially viable. The new Service 24 does, however, mean that the journey to the town centre is quicker.
“We would be pleased to receive any ideas or suggestions from the Blunsdon community as a result of the meeting.”
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