Staple Hill Councillor Shirley Potts will tonight tell South Gloucestershire Council’s Public Transport Forum that her area needs its half-hourly bus to Southmead Hospital to be reinstated following a recent cut in service.
On 23 August the bus company split the number 17 route which runs through Staple Hill, alternating journeys with a new 17a route that takes a different route. The 17 has only been running through Staple Hill for a matter of months, and as a result of a previous campaign by local residents and councillors.
Councillor Potts says:
“I have been requested by residents to raise our concerns about the reduction of the 17 bus service which provides a direct link from Staple Hill to Southmead Hospital, particularly since it has operated for only a few months and was the result of a vigorous campaign by local residents and a petition signed by almost 700 people.
There is always a need for reliable and efficient public transport to essential facilities like hospitals, but in some areas the need is greater than in others. Staple Hill is a Priority Neighbourhood with the highest degree of multiple deprivation in South Gloucestershire. It has the lowest car ownership, suffers the largest number of health inequalities and a large percentage of elderly residents, many with mobility problems. Therefore good public transport is essential. Community Transport can assist at times with outward visits but there are problems with return journeys.
When the super-hospital first opened, patients from Staple Hill had to use two or more buses and there were reports of missed appointments. Hence the campaign and hence the tremendous appreciation and relief when the number 17 bus was diverted to cover Staple Hill at 30 minute intervals, only to be followed by disappointment now, as the service is reduced to operate hourly.”
[Photograph of Councillor Potts with Staple Hill resident Jeanette McCormack, who is affected by the reduction in bus service to Southmead hospital]
The Council’s Public Transport Forum brings together bus operators, residents and councillors to discuss public transport issues affecting the district. Councillor Potts says that she is attending so that she can address the bus operators directly. She says:
“When concerns were raised with the operator we were told that changes were made to improve punctuality by adding more time between journeys and for buses to complete the route. At the moment this does not seem to have worked since against directions given, buses have been arriving up to twenty minutes late and even not at all.
The other issue raised is the inadequacy of the consultation. One has to remember that many people in some areas do not have the IT skills or access to computers. Many have mobility problems and cannot access libraries which sometimes house drop-in sessions. For these reasons good publicity in regard to important changes is essential.
Some of the changes do not make commercial sense. The erratic timetable which operates particularly in the evenings can cause difficulties and with routes running as infrequently as they now are, any journeys that require a change of bus could lead to unacceptably long waits. In effect this is forcing people off the buses.
Although we understand commercial priorities we would ask that some consideration is given to the special circumstances which face many people. We all have some duty of care. The people of Staple Hill would like to see the reinstatement of the 30 minutes service and for consideration to be given to the problems of lack of punctuality and the methods of consultation.”