Autumn 2018 service changes/cuts

Bus and Coach operations, new or changed services and timetables for First Midland Red Buses Limited or its predecessor, Midland Red West Limited.
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AdamH
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Location: Worcester

Re: Autumn 2018 service changes (?)

Post by AdamH » 11:26 Thursday 9th August 2018

All very true, but like everything else it all comes down to money. Changes to routes and timetables - good or bad - will only have a chance of working if they are well publicised, but marketing eats heavily into the budget for the given route, which in turn is more likely to make that route unprofitable for the operator and in need of Council funding to keep it going. Meanwhile the Councils are under huge pressures from all directions and can no longer afford it.

Ironically, the success of the free bus pass scheme is part of this problem. When it was introduced in 2008 the passenger numbers on some routes went up by almost 300%, but while that is good for the bus operator it wasn't good for the Councils as they must foot the bill. Councils are obliged to reimburse the bus companies when free passes are used, so while increased numbers on one route is to be welcomed for that route, if the extra numbers are made up by free pass holders it takes money out of the Council pot that could support other routes. Because of this we see strong routes getting stronger and making bigger profits for the operator, while weak routes fade and die.

Councils are not obliged to give free school travel to (most) children, or directly support bus routes by subsidies, so those are areas they can make savings. Free travel for school children has all but vanished now, just ask any parent paying £15 per week per child for a bus pass, and while subsidised bus routes have survived a bit longer they are fast heading the same way.

A strong route with a healthy mix of fare paying passengers and free pass holders and may well survive without the free bus pass money, just with a lower profit margin. In an ideal world that money could be used to support routes that are at risk, but the Council have no choice as the law says they must pay operators when people use their pass. Why don't the bus companies divert the money I hear you all ask? Well two reasons, firstly they want to make money for their share holders as we all know bus companies are not charities, but also the law says they can't even if they would wish to. That would be unfair competition as it could prevent another operator competing on the same route. For example, First cannot use money made on the 144 or 35 to keep the 53 going as that would be an unfair advantage over Astons who may wish to bring back their 382. As a result of deregulation and privatisation in 1986, each route must be economically viable to ensure fair competition between rival operators.

Every now and then we hear rumours that the free bus pass scheme is going to end because it is costing too much. That is a real minefield and potentially an act of political suicide for any government brave enough to kill it off. There are many people who totally rely on their pass and would really struggle without it, but there are also many people who abuse them, and that is what needs to be addressed.

I don't have the answers, I'm just a steering wheel attendant, but it really annoys me when I see someone running for the bus only to use a free pass to go one stop. If they are fit enough to run for the bus they are fit enough to take a steady walk to the next stop, and save the Council a bit of money that may help save the bus for someone who really needs it. And don't get me started on all the ones who just go the whole route and get off back where they started, or lend their pass out to their friends, etc! :evil:

One last point before I shut up... I've seen comments about how the withdrawal of an evening journey will impact on passenger numbers during the day. Yes, this is very true, but it's not that simple when you put numbers to it. Using the 17:50 Service 37 for an example, in April 2018 that journey carried an average of 5.9 passengers over the whole route each day. That clearly isn't enough to justify running the journey so it is withdrawn, and the harsh economic reality is that the company will save more money doing that than they will loose when those 5.9 people don't use the bus to travel in the other direction earlier in the day. Especially if some of those 5.9 people only make a short journey or use a free pass.

Not my intent to defend cuts to any bus service, just trying to help people understand why they happen.

Noggin1
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Joined: 13:58 Sunday 16th October 2016

Re: Autumn 2018 service changes (?)

Post by Noggin1 » 12:58 Thursday 9th August 2018

Well, I was going to suggest mass protests by pensioners by hopping on to these buses rather than attending a meeting to try to save them, but after Adam's explanation I am not so sure.
On Upton, it surely wouldn't cost the Council much to pay to extend a few 32s to Upton from Baynhall, and even to Hanley? There is the timing issue for the return from Baynhall. How come Kempsey gets a half hour service - is it development money? I can't think of a small town in central England so cut off from buses as Upton will be. Southam and Kineton are in relative clover. Winchcombe has an hourly service to Cheltenham. Worcestershire Council pays for a two hourly bus from Tenbury to Kidderminster - why shouldn't Upton get the same? The 363 is more difficult - it always has been superfluous as far as Powick because of the frequent Malvern service.
Pershore is more complicated because of the regular X50, but I agree with AlanM that for some people it will be a long walk.

Tommy10112
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Re: Autumn 2018 service changes (?)

Post by Tommy10112 » 13:17 Thursday 9th August 2018

Just seeing timetables online isn’t no buses part from school time going to be serving Belmont/ Malvern vale area as if it’s true what about or the elderly in this area and people uses buses for work, I get they have to cut some buses as not being used but always this area with first they cut them from never poundbank/ green area 😡 also think of all you bus drivers that will have hours cut so this will affect everyone surely

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AdamH
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Location: Worcester

Re: Autumn 2018 service changes (?)

Post by AdamH » 13:36 Thursday 9th August 2018

Noggin1 wrote:
12:58 Thursday 9th August 2018
Well, I was going to suggest mass protests by pensioners by hopping on to these buses rather than attending a meeting to try to save them, but after Adam's explanation I am not so sure.
By all means jump on a bus to show it's being used and to protest about Council cuts, but rather than forcing the Council to pay for that protest by using a free pass, buy a ticket! If you can't afford a return, buy a single and use your pass to get home. Every little helps!

TimBrown
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Location: Worcester

Re: Autumn 2018 service changes (?)

Post by TimBrown » 17:28 Thursday 9th August 2018

AdamH wrote:
13:36 Thursday 9th August 2018
Noggin1 wrote:
12:58 Thursday 9th August 2018
Well, I was going to suggest mass protests by pensioners by hopping on to these buses rather than attending a meeting to try to save them, but after Adam's explanation I am not so sure.
By all means jump on a bus to show it's being used and to protest about Council cuts, but rather than forcing the Council to pay for that protest by using a free pass, buy a ticket! If you can't afford a return, buy a single and use your pass to get home. Every little helps!
I hear everything that Adam says, and at risk of repeating myself, I am quite prepared to buy a 10 trip ticket for £14 and have done in the past so that I can use a bus before 9-30 am and return on pensioners pass, but the ticket was withdrawn in favour of those with expensive to run i-phones. I would be more than prepared to pay £1-50 single within the city before 9-30 am as was offered by Potteries not so long ago, but £2-60 for 2.4 miles into town does not represent good value compared with using my car and parking for free for 3 hours using my blue disabled badge. Another consideration to this old man with angina is that my car is relatively cool with air-con in this tropical weather and many buses I have been on are like a sauna with heaters on full and/or only two opening ventilators as on much vaunted 'hotbox' Salt Road Volvos, so I end up dripping wet with sweat which then takes its toll the next few days on my prosthetic leg!. Not only that in the bad weather I can go when I choose and park close to my destination and return when I please instead of waiting and hoping the bus will turn up, just no contest is it really? So my days of using the bus are with regret gradually coming to close.

You might when, you retire, find that the state pension paid to the elderly is numerically number 42 in the world and one of the lowest percentages of average annual salary I think the figure is about 30% and below the amount paid in some South American countries. We are the lowest in Europe; Holland for example pays pensioners just above the national average, so many people without the benefit of works, or occupational, pensions do need some help with their transport needs. Again going over old ground we are all still paying for the toxic loan scandal of banks in 2008 with County Councils having their government grants for transport and other subsidies by up to 75%. Only today, Northampton Council has more or less announced it is bankrupt to the tune of £70 million. And still the Government wants to spend in excess of £50 billion on HS2 railway! Hate to say this, but if we want a healthy NHS (USA pays twice as much per capita in their system than in UK) and other essential services to operate successfully then taxation must rise. The difficulty will be prioritising where the money goes and trying to effect savings by for example central bulk buying with good discounting for NHS.

In the absence of government help, I doubt that the City will have anything much left of the current bus network in 5 years time; the most telling fact about Worcester bus operation is the size of car parking needed at Padmore Street mainly because there is no bus service available when drivers need to get to and from work - this also applies to city centre shop workers whom you will see walking along most of the main roads into the centre early mornings and late afternoons. Many more will be forced to do the same and once profitable routes will be withdrawn into oblivion.

MattW
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Location: Welland

Re: Autumn 2018 service changes (?)

Post by MattW » 17:39 Thursday 9th August 2018

AdamH wrote:
20:35 Wednesday 8th August 2018
Oh great, that twat again.
I wonder if they had a barbecue? :twisted:

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AdamH
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Re: Autumn 2018 service changes/cuts

Post by AdamH » 19:32 Thursday 9th August 2018

Tim, I understand there are many people who need a bus pass and for those people it is a great scheme, and I do not begrudge them in any way. However, every day I see people abuse the system and that is what winds me up. Someone once told me that 40% of journeys made using the free pass are non-essential and therefore just a waist of tax-payers money. No idea how they came up with that figure, but it would be interesting to see how many bus routes (or librarys or swimming pools etc) could be saved if that money were put to better use.

Obviously those with shares in bus companies will disagree with me because the free pass scheme makes them money, but I can't help thinking that is a bit short-sighted and someone needs to come up with a long-term solution that allows people who need it most to get out and about without putting Local Authorities under strain. After-all, what's the point in having a bus pass if there are no buses to use them on?

TimBrown
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Location: Worcester

Re: Autumn 2018 service changes/cuts

Post by TimBrown » 20:29 Thursday 9th August 2018

AdamH wrote:
19:32 Thursday 9th August 2018
Tim, I understand there are many people who need a bus pass and for those people it is a great scheme, and I do not begrudge them in any way. However, every day I see people abuse the system and that is what winds me up. Someone once told me that 40% of journeys made using the free pass are non-essential and therefore just a waist of tax-payers money. No idea how they came up with that figure, but it would be interesting to see how many bus routes (or librarys or swimming pools etc) could be saved if that money were put to better use.

Obviously those with shares in bus companies will disagree with me because the free pass scheme makes them money, but I can't help thinking that is a bit short-sighted and someone needs to come up with a long-term solution that allows people who need it most to get out and about without putting Local Authorities under strain. After-all, what's the point in having a bus pass if there are no buses to use them on?
Conversely we have just seen what happens when nobody uses a service, in common with many pensioners in this area I am actually willing to buy a 10 trip ticket for £14 and can't. I have used the first service into town on many occasions in the past but no longer do so and find it ironic that buses are being cut because the company won't give us the same deal as i-phone owners, probably because the new ticket machines are not fitted with hole punches.

Also I am not sure what you mean by a wasted journey, is shopping or going to meet a friend for a cup of coffee or a lunch a wasted journey? Is it a wasted journey when i go out photographing buses using my pass? Is it not so that County Hall pays vast sums to the senior executives, three or four times the amount paid to our Prime Minister, is that not a greater waste of public money. Isn't the Southern Link road debacle another even greater waste of money with feeble attempts to upgrade it to the standard it should have been built originally? The list of local authority waste is endless.

Do you want to see bus passes means tested as has been suggested quite recently. When I couldn't find work I discovered exactly what means testing involves, you have to declare every bit of money you have, in the bank, building society, any stocks and shares and dividends (and produce all documentary evidence), cash and any part time earnings (if you are lucky enough to find such a luxury), it is skid row, demeaning and highly depressing.

How about restricting the number of journeys to say four round trips a week, the ticket machines are electronically capable of recording individual journeys as they log the unique serial number. If you do it will cause more service cuts and a reduction in driver numbers and possible redundancies of staff from every department. How is it that West Midlands OAP's can use their passes on buses, trains and trams throughout the West Midlands County - is it a coincidence that the area boasts a vibrant public transport system, frequent services with good loadings at most times of the day? How does that area afford it, are their council taxes infinitely higher than ours?

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AdamH
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Re: Autumn 2018 service changes/cuts

Post by AdamH » 11:07 Friday 10th August 2018

Looks like Worcestershire are not the only LA to have this problem... Link to BBC website

bmmoboy
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Re: Autumn 2018 service changes/cuts

Post by bmmoboy » 16:43 Friday 10th August 2018

Tim - talking of Council waste, why are they building a new bus stop lay-by just north of Green Lane, when there is a perfectly serviceable one 100 yards away, which has been there for several decades. I expect that they will say it is for new development on the adjacent fields but it still seems to be a complete waste of money

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