The Route 20 bus service operated by Stagecoach went live on 1 June and it is worth a brief update as the service settles down. Three areas are worth a mention:
- Missing Bus Stops
- Clarification on CallConnect Saturday Service
- Increasing Use of the Bus Service
1. Missing Bus Stops
There are four stops in Long Leys on the national bus stop database (who knew such a thing existed) which you can view at https://www.cartogold.co.uk/lincs/map.html.
- Carram Way stop,
- the bus shelter on Long Leys Road
- by Curtis’s on Long Leys Road
- the opposite side of Long Leys Road to Curtis’s.
LLRA, with support from Councillor Robert Parker, have highlighted three further stops which we feel should be on the database and deemed official stops (but which have no bus stop markings or sign currently so only those in the know could have used them before). These are:
- Next to 137 Long Leys – not quite opposite the Albion Crescent junction (lampost number 21 for those who like precision)
- Long Leys Road next to Whitton Park (lampost number 8)
- The opposite side of Long Leys Road to Whitton Park (lampost number 9)
We have asked Transport Services to re-instate these stops with signs and add them to the database and feel we have got a positive response. Paul Sanders at Transport Services commented: “I have asked our Infrastructure Projects Team to investigate and establish whether a formal stop can be established again. As the stop no longer exists on the national bus stop database, it appears that if a stop had indeed been at the locality (which appears to be the case) it has either been officially removed or declassified at some point. I am not sure what the timescales are for this work to be undertaken (as safety audits would need to be carried out) but I will keep you updated on progress.”
In the meantime we have asked Stagecoach to be understanding on drop off points. Feedback from Stagecoach is: “Our drivers will stop where it is safe to do so (after all our customers are important to us), however if there is no official stop the driver can and will only stop if they believe it is safe to do so at the time.” This will have to do in the short term but it is not ideal which is why we need the missing stops re-instated in speedy fashion. I saw a Stagecoach driver pick up a passenger at the Whitton Park location on Friday, so the message seems to have got through to at least one driver (Stagecoach will potentially use a great number of drivers on Route 20). One bus on Monday morning did miss the West Parade section of the route, which Stagecoach have apologised for.
You will notice that a timetable case has now been added to the Curtis stop after being missing for some years. Route 20 Bus Timetables were hand delivered by LLRA volunteers to all homes in Long Leys on the 1 June. Thanks to these volunteers who gave up their free time to deliver them to us, and to Transport Services for providing the printed leaflets. We hope that everyone in Long Leys now has access to Route 20 timetable information – if not then email LLRA@long-leys.org with your address and we can arrange to drop a timetable off for you.
2. Call Connect Saturday Service
To correct any misconceptions on the Saturday CallConnect service: As we confirmed in the hand delivered leaflets, the CallConnect booking time is from 1 hour to a maximum of 7 days – there is no requirement to book 7 days in advance. The service operates even if there is a single passenger – the only requirement is to register to use the service to start with and then book in advance to ensure that the 12-seater coaches used are not already full – it is not dependent on getting a bus load. This is a flexible service and one that many rural communities in Lincolnshire rely on every day for all their bus journeys!
Transport Services offered to help any resident who is struggling to register for the service. If you encounter any Long Leys residents who are unsure of the CallConnect Service, then please request they email LLRA@long-leys.org with their contact details and I will pass their details on to Maria Lyon at Transport Services who has offered to help them. Alternatively they can call CallConnect on 0345 234 3344 or visit http://www.connectlincolnshire.com/. It would be appreciated if you can share this information with any of your neighbours that you know do not have Internet or email access.
Below is a video overview of the service, kindly provided by Transport Services. Do bear in mind that CallConnect operates only on Saturday in Long Leys.
3. Increasing Use of the Bus Service
Let’s be clear, the previous bus service stopped as the route was uneconomic for the bus operator and they terminated their contract, despite receiving circa £15,000 a year in subsidy from our council tax. Simply put, not enough people used the old 5 service. To persuade an operator to run the Route 20 bus service has required a whopping £30,000 a year of our council taxes and huge efforts from local Carholme councillors to persuade Transport Services that this money is well spent. My thanks go particularly to Councillor Parker who has pressed our case hard.
Just to kill a Long Leys urban myth, other operators who tendered wanted significantly higher subsidies than Stagecoach. Stagecoach keep the full income from individual fare payments but only get a percentage of this payment from government when bus passes are used (the same as the previous operator).
The Route 20 service feeds into the Central Bus station and transport hub which gives access to a wide array of bus and rails services, so please do look at the timetable and consider whether some car journeys could be just as easily done by bus (and without the hassle or cost of parking in the city centre).
The initial Route 20 contract is for 3 years. LLRA will work with councillors and Transport Services to see where improvements in timetabling can be made but the service needs a period of stability first as we get used to it. LLRA have had meetings with St George’s hospital and are encouraging them to include access to bus services within future transport plans, although shift patterns make this difficult for most staff.