Opinion: ‘I am partially disabled so these evening Preston Bus changes are difficult and dangerous’

Posted on - 25th April, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, Ingol, Opinion, Politics, Preston News, Ribbleton, Tanterton, Transport
Number 23 services are one of the four bus routes to see a reduction in evening services Pic: Blog Preston
Number 23 services are one of the four bus routes to see a reduction in evening services Pic: Blog Preston

I am troubled, distressed and angered by the proposed and possibly already set in stone changes intended for Preston Bus services 6, 23, 35, and 100. I will be particularly affected by changes to the later bus timetable disruptions on the 35 which runs by my home just off Tanterton Road. (PR2 7EN). The changes are highlighted here.

Routes 6, 23, 35, 100 are affected and my most frequently used service is the 35.

The curtailing of many late services, especially on Sundays and bank holidays will have a very bad effect on me. It will also hit hard on pubs, clubs and restaurants in the city centre as customers and staff may need to leave well before the ‘last orders’ calls to catch the last buses departing much earlier than that. The drain on the hospitality business, itself already struggling, will be enormous. As someone who uses the services often. The late buses are invaluable, and not just to me.

Read more: ‘People are losing faith’ – reaction to Preston Bus evening changes proposal

The need for changes is being blamed on there being too few passengers using the services. This is alas not entirely true. The fact is that even when running, the timetables on these services (and others operated by Preston Bus) are utterly unreliable. Services are frequently late and in some cases simply don’t show up at all.

Worse, if travelling from the bus station itself, passengers find that after 10pm the station is closed and locked and we are expected to wait for our buses on the coach area, unclear exactly where our buses will come in (the 35 still comes in on the later sections of the bus station itself and is then only approachable at short notice by walking outside the station, which is dangerous, and many passengers miss the ever moved around buses for not being given clear information on where exactly the bus will come in and where best to wait for it.

Such practices deter potential passengers from catching the later buses. It often even deters passengers from going out at all as they don’t expect to benefit from a late stay out. If buses are still running at all the bus station should be fully open and operational. Many of our homeless people make use of the inadequate seating provided in the station for overnight sleeping and I have no objection to this but they are now shut out by an insensitive greedy cost cutting measure.

That the 23 is affected hits me on occasions I have had to return from the hospital (located on that route) late on, with a need to switch from the 23 to the 35 on route – affecting an NHS hospital serving service in this way is not in anyone’s interest. It forces potential patients, staff and potential bus passengers to have to get lifts, taxis or hospital transport (at cost to the already struggling NHS) to compensate for your abject failure to run the buses sensibly and properly in the interests of the passenger rather than the interests of your shareholders.

That the 100 timetable is affected too adds to the woes of the passengers on the other services impacted by the greed behind these cutbacks. The 100 serves the Odeon cinema where the evening film screenings are likely to now finish sometimes too late for passengers to expect a bus ride back to the city centre (or out to Larches), as some of those times might be the ones where your buses are now withdrawn from service. The passengers, like myself, hoping to get the 100 to the bus station and then switch to the 35 or other services are likely to be doubly hit especially on Sundays and bank holidays (days when lack of need to get up for work the next day means going out and spending more time and money in the city).

Read more: Corporation Street bus gate cameras appear – but not working yet

The cutbacks are being excused due to empty seats on many services, punishing the passengers travelling rather than giving any incentive to those staying away to come back. The buses do not run to make money for your shareholders but as a vital service allowing the people of Preston to get round their city safely and economically, whether they are on a packed bus or have one virtually to themselves. Service improvements are the way to make more money – not withdrawing unproductive services to punish passengers further.

The buses are clearly cheaper than taxis, serve the environment better than cars in their potential to carry more passengers and use less carbon footprint fuel, and they help keep other businesses, especially in hospitality, operating.

I am partly disabled following bowel cancer surgery, so prolonged waiting and pursuit of public transport, especially on cold wet nights is difficult and even dangerous.

To add insult to the inconvenience already generated Prestonbus are invited people like myself to send information to a public consultation page and give an e-mail address for it; (now replaced with a working e-mail address but messages sent for several weeks to this e-mail address (and not just by me as others are online referring to the situation) bounced right back. We were effectively invited to send heartfelt serious grievances to nowhere. Suetonius said Caligula was criticised for executing Romans for not paying tax he hadn’t told them needed paying, so he had tax notices stuck on the roofs of the people’s houses knowing few would see them, but able to say they were posted. #Prestonbus has the same mentality.

This really needs addressing and fixing properly and urgently. To cap it all, Preston Bus are now raising their fares, charging more just as they offer less at the same time.

This is a guest post by Arthur Chappell. It originally appeared on his blog and is reproduced with permission. Arthur is a 62 year old Tanterton, Ingol based writer, pub historian (his second pub signs book is out in mid-July) and performance poet. wearing a stoma bag for life after bowel cancer surgery in 2020.

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