Councillor calls for comfortable and clean buses to boost passenger numbers
By David Lawrence - Local Democracy Reporter
18th May 2022 | Local News
A local councillor is calling for a major push to get more people on the buses in the wake of a failed bid for government funding.
Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington North) was a member of the cross party group of Warwickshire county councillors that worked with officers to develop a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).
She told this week's annual meeting of the council: "The plan went in and we all sat back in giddy anticipation of how much money we were going to get. Sadly, we got absolutely nothing.
"All the really exciting plans we had for our bus service came to absolutely nothing so I am very keen that we continue that work and that we look at the stuff we could be doing out of council resources.
"I would like to see us having a real go at encouraging our residents to use the buses. I know Covid had a massive effect on bus use – people were encouraged not to catch buses – but I live in an area where there are many hundreds if not thousands of residents with bus passes and yet they don't use them."
Her words came in the same week as WCC's new on-demand bus service replaced the number 16 which served serves Hatton Park, Hampton Magna, Warwick, Leek Wootton and Kenilworth.
The new IndieGo PLUS service began on Monday, with residents now having to order the bus on an app or via a call centre.
Residents have criticised the new service and said that the buses had steadily got worse over the past few years.
Cllr Boad added: "The services are really not good at all and they are being cut and the cost is going up.
"We need to make buses comfortable, clean, accessible and easy to use and then everyone will use them. It would be great to have a big push on actually getting people on the buses because the more they use them, the more services there will be.
"I am looking forward to coming back with plans that could help make a positive improvement to the way people travel in this county. People talk about walking and cycling all the time but people don't talk about buses. For many people it's not practical to walk or cycle, what they need is a decent bus service."
Cllr Boad also said that she would like to see more hydrogen and electric buses introduced over the next 18 months.
She said: "At the top of The Parade in Leamington there can be up to a dozen buses at any one time waiting and belching out diesel fumes. It makes the shopping experience very difficult and it's not very good for the environment."
There was unanimous support for her motion calling for the council to ask the BSIP group to look at the plan with officers and to report back with a costed list of those actions they considered could be taken forward through alternative funding.