CURRENT CAMPAIGNS

The Group is currently pursuing a number of  issues with bus operators and the county council. Here are a few of them. This is only a selection of the issues that the Group is involved in. If you'd like to know more about them - or have an issue you would like us to raise - please come along to a group meeting or get in touch via email to lancasterbususers@gmail.com





Other campaigns are:


1. NoW Cards on Dales Bus
In March 2016 LCC announced that it would not pay for the use of NoW Cards (concessionary bus passes) on the Dales Bus service 830 / 832 that runs from Morecambe to Richmond (N Yorks) on Summer Sundays.
We have challenged this decision on the grounds that it is unlawful and that it does not comply with Guidance on the Regulations surrounding eligibility issued by the Department for Transport.
LCC says that its legal advice is that it is permissable to ban the use of bus passes on these services as they are "operated primarily for purposes of tourism". This would appear to conflict with DfT Guidance on the application of the Concessionary Travel Regulations and we have made a Freedom of Information Request to see the advice. This has been refused on the grounds that such advice is not covered by FOI regulations. (Nov. 2016)

We made a formal complaint to the County Council that it is acting illegally, but this was rejected by the County Council, which apparently can act as judge and jury in such matters.

By agreement with the organisers of Dales Bus, who feel that the services are more secure if they don't accept passes because of the low rate of reimbursement they receive)  we are not pursuing this matter at the moment


2.  Bus Service 18 (Lancaster - Moorlands Circular)
Money from the developers of the new housing at Standen Park has been made available to Lancashire County Council under planning rules to provide an enhanced bus service on this route, which also serves Williamson Park and Lancaster Farms prison.
Despite this, the County Council has declined to take any action and has spent the bulk of the money on highway improvements instead.  It has also refused to say how much of the funding remains available for the bus service improvements.

The situation has been compounded by the operator, Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire, reducing the previous hourly service to a handful of journeys per day as it attempts to maintain a commercial (i.e. unsubsidised) service.

Additional funding has now become available from another sec.106 payment, this time from the Miller Homes development at Lancaster Leisure Park, whicjh is also on the service 18 route.  After the Group alerted the County Council's public transport team to the avgailablility of the funding it appears that they are now seeking quotes for proposed improvements to the service.

In a meeting at County Hall on 1st December attended by the BUG along with County Councillors and Senior Officers (and even Cat Smith MP!) the council officers were instructed by Cllr Fillis, the Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport, to set aside a sum of money and to begin work immediately on procuring an improved service. The officers concerned said that it would be "weeks, not months" before it was introduced.

SUCCESS! A half-hourly service, operated by Stagecoach commenced on 6th March 2017.


2.  Lack of Service to parts of the Lune Valley
Following the county council's funding cuts in April 2016 the west side of the Lune Valley including the villages of Whittington, Arkholme and Gressingham have no bus service. Stagecoach, which operates a commercial service on the east bank cannot provide a commercial service to these villages and the county council says that it cannot see how any contracted service could be made to meet its criteria.

The County Council however has now agreed to broker a meeting with local parish councils and the Bus Users' Group to investigate whether it is possible to use Parish Bus Scheme funding to provide a service. (May 2016)

The above meeting never took place as the County Council took no action

Following a reminder from BUG the Council has written to the parishes but says that there was insuffcient interest for it to pursue the matter.  From 17th January 2017 Stagecoach re-routed one of the morning school buses to QE School via Gressingham, Arkholme and Whittington.

LATEST: From 2nd May 2017 Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire is introducing  three journeys between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale, two via Arkholme and Whittingham and one via Tunstall utilising buses which would otherwise run empty from their Lancaster deopt to take up service on the Kirkby Lonsdale-Skipton route. 

Stagecoach has confirmed that it is unable to improve its service due to the low financial returns currently experienced and that the service will be under review for the new academic year when the number of schoolchildren using it may be reduced.


3.  Service 6/6A  Morecambe to Lancaster
This service, which runs via Salt Ayre and Westgate operates four times an hour between Morecambe and Westgate, but only one bus per hour continues to Lancaster.
The Group feels that the service to Lancaster should be improved and has developed a proposal to put to Stagecoach. The improvement to the Lancaster leg would, however, have to be at the expense of the Westgate to Morecambe section, which would have to be reduced if the cost of operating the service is to be contained. The Group is anxious to hear the views of users of the service, particularly those who travel between Westgate and Morecambe

The Group now understands that Stagecoach is reviewing these services and will consider the possibility of improved links to Lancaster. Any revised services were to be introduced after the Heysham Link Road opened in October 2016 but the network review has now been postponed pending the decision on whether to close Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster for long-term repair works, which will have a serious effect on traffic.

4. Buses to Lancaster Retail Park
The retail park, which is home to shops such as Dunelm and Wicks is not served by bus, although frequent service 2X, from both Lancaster and Heysham passes within a few metres on the Heysham by-pass.
The Group accepts that a stop on the by-pass is not acceptable, but an alternative suggestion of a stop between the two roundabouts on Mellishaw Lane has also been turned down.
The Group is now proposing that space be made available in the retail park car park for a stop.

Stagecoach is not keen on its vehicles entering the retail park itself, but is looking into the possibility of a stop nearby as part of the wider review of services mentioned above.



5. Bus Publicity

The Group has concerns over a number of matters concerning publicity for bus services in the District.

a) Information on smaller operators' services, including the summer Sunday Dales Bus network is not available at the Bus Station because the enquiry office is controlled by Stagecoach.

b) Stagecoach's leaflet which attempts the explain the various discounted daily and weekly tickets available is over-complicated and difficult to understand.

c) There is no publicly-available map of bus services in the area that shows all operators' buses.

d) Some minor services, such as the 5B Brookhouse to Morecambe service are not very well publicised and the Group fears that they are therefore in danger when subsidy cuts are made.

Stagecoach has agreed to display Dales Bus leaflets this year and also has plans to issue a comprehensive booklet, including maps, for its local network although this will only include its own services.  

Dales Bus leaflets are available at the Stagecoach shop (although not on display) and Stagecoach now issues paper maps of its Lancaster network (latest dated May 2017).


One of our members, Cameron Redpath, has started a campaign to improve accessibility for wheelchair-users on local buses.  The Optare Solo buses used on some city services have restricted space for wheelchairs and conflict can arise between wheelchair-users and other passengers over the space available.  There are also problems at Lancaster Bus Station where the doors on these buses do not line up with the boarding platforms and station doors that are designed for larger vehicles.
Cameron has already had success in publicising his campaign and getting the city council to look at the bus station problem.  The Bus Users Group has now secured him a meeting with local Stagecoach management to help them understand the difficulties these buses can cause to wheelchair users.



SUCCESS STORIES

Despite its short life, Lancaster District Bus Users Group has had some successes:

Lancashire County Council Budget Cuts 2016/17
The County Council announced its intention to withdraw ALL funding for the bus services that run under contract to it from April 2016.
The Bus Users' Group campaigned to keep at least a daytime service operating to areas that had no other bus service.
In March, the Council announced it would make £2M available to maintain bus services throughout the county and locally services 33 (Bare Circular), 51 (Carnforth - Silverdale) and 89 (Lancaster - Knott End) were saved. Stagecoach also decided to continue to run  daytime buses on service 81 (Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale) with a payment from LCC for a later bus added after a BUG campaign, and also to maintain the Sunday service on the 5 Overton - Morecambe - Carnforth.
However, many evening and Sunday buses have been lost.

Service 80 in Hornby
Following a request by the BUG the route of service 80 in Hornby was changed to meet requests from residents.

Service 42 Lancaster - Blackpool
This important service is the last in the District to be operated with step-entrance buses, which cannot accommodate wheelchairs. Many journeys, however, are run by accessible buses and this causes problems for passengers who face the risk of being stranded if their return bus can't take a wheelchair. At our suggestion, Stagecoach has implemented a system whereby passengers can telephone to find out what sort of bus is being used on a particular journey.
From 1st January 2017 all buses on service 42 - and indeed on all other bus services in the district are required by law to be operated by accessible buses.


Dementia Awareness Training

Stagecoach has agreed to consider including dementia-awareness training as part of its staff training programme.

Bus Stop Renaming
The bus stops on the A6 between the city centre and the Boot & Shoe have been renamed at the Group's suggestion, so that the same names are used in printed timetables, on the internet, on tickets and on the stops themselves. Previously a variety of names was used to describe the same stop in many cases, which the Group felt was confusing, especially to new or infrequent users.

Bus Shelter Improvement
Following a request from County Councillor Gina Dowding, the bus shelter on Keswick Road, Ridge has received a coat of paint and has had a timetable case fitted. It is unclear what arrangements, if any, have been made to fill the display case with information and the Group will take this up with the County Council.
We now understand (May 2016) that funding has been found by the City Council for a new shelter.

The bus shelter in Hornby, owned by the Parish Council has been given a coat of paint and fitted with a seat after approaches by a local BUG member.

Bus Shelters in Lancaster and Morecambe are owned and maintained by either the City or County Councils and it had become difficult to know who to approach when problems with shelters were identified.  The Group now has a list of who owns what and who maintains each shelter so we can direct problems discovered to the right body.



2 comments:

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  2. Can i suggest some proposals?

    1. Lancaster Town Service on Sundays/Bank Holidays - I suggest that a proposal be put forward to run 3 buses a day to the estates of Lancaster (Vale, Ridge & Marsh) 1 in the morning 1 in the afternoon and one early/mid evening. I propose they run in a loop as pre April 2016 (vale then ridge then marsh) maybe one loop at 11am - the next at 3/4pm and the final at 8/9pm, this way people will be able to get out and about to do their shopping, meeting relatives etc

    2. 6/6A - I propose that the service 6 be abandoned and integrated with the 6a like it is on a Sunday/Bank holiday, it works and that way hampsfell drive is still being served to and from lancaster. These could be run in 20ish minute intervals from both ends and would improve links with lancaster?

    Just a thought?

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