Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Only the Lonely at Olney (3)

We Have a Cunning Plan!
There are a number of ways that a Government can "balance the books", all of which can have dire consequences. A simple way is to print more money which, when carried to extremes resulted in this German postage stamps with huge face value that used to excite small boys into thinking they had discovered something valuable.
Nowadays it is called "quantitative easing" but it is still a risky strategy. Or you can stop spending money on schools, hospitals, roads and the national health service, all of which will then fall down. To help your budgetary policy you can also reduce the money handed over to local authorities and let then ride the opprobrium of the general public.

The consequence of the latter is that the lads and lasses at the Town Halls look round for ways of saving a bob or two and, bingo, withdraw subsidies for "essential" bus services. It doesn't balance the books, it is likely to make the overall financial  deal worse rather than better, but it is easier to do than, for example, reducing the number of meetings, consultants and councillors' expenses.

Or you can put a few pence on the rate of income tax and raise enough to pay all your bills.

End of pseudo political rant.

Stagecoach route 40 ...
... is partly funded by the Borough of Milton Keynes and the lads at MKHQ have decided to save an insignificant amount by withdrawing the money. In response, the lads at Stagecoach have decided to withdraw the bus service!

This has consequences. As a straight withdrawal, it would leave Biddenham and the hinterland of Bromham without a bus service; likewise the villages of Stagesden, Astwood and Chicheley.

News was revealed in general on the Northamptonshire bus site back in early October.

So let's see what is happening c/o Stagecoach. We need, of course, to reset our location (to Northampton) to see what changes might be made to the service 41. But, tragically, Stagecoach doesn't operate a service 41 to Northampton ...
... as we can all see. The best the site can offer is:-
It is, of course, blindingly obvious to all users that the 41 only appears on the Bedford web site - but (inconvenient as ever!) only if you reset your location to Bedford. But with just three days to go to the change, where is it?
Hooray? NOT Hooray, that is the current 41, not the new one. Of course, silly fbb! Users of the web site are expected to know, via some kind of Stagecoach thought transference system, that the 41 is changing. Then they can look around.
Every time a user wants a timetable, all they have to do is to go to "Service Updates" to check whether a change to their service is pending. Easy-peasy.
And still nothing to help you. But click on the panel and:-

From Sunday 27th November 2016 - Bedford services 40, 41 and 42:

Due to the withdrawal of funding by Milton Keynes Council, the 40 service will be withdrawn entirely. Some parts of the route will still be covered by revised service 41. See below for details.

Service 41 will be increased to operate every 30 minutes between Bedford and Bromham via Biddenham. For most of the day, one of those services an hour will extend to Stagsden, and the other to Northampton.  Services between Bedford and Northampton will also operate to a revised timetable to improve reliability. You will be able to preview the timetable shortly.  Click  HERE  to view the timetable. 

We will also be making minor changes to the 42 service to improve reliability. Click HERE to view the timetable .

Even then, the timetable might nor be there yet.

But, yippee; throw the streamers, pop the poppers, break out the bubbly; we do have a timetable; via yet another click, of course. Stagecoach wouldn't want to make it too easy.
There is an improved service of two buses an hour via Biddenham and the darkest reaches of Bromham, with the short working continuing to Stagsden. The Northampton journeys now have an extended running time.

 Running time Northampton to Bedford : 1 hour 16 minutes 

Excellent news for the locals, but discouraging news for through passengers. Pluto used to take fifty minutes!

"And what about Astwood and Chicheley?", we hear our readers cry. See the old  service 40 (timetable above).
The powers that be have provided them with the luxury of a few journeys to either Newport Pagnell or Olney ...
... instead of through buses to Bedford or Milton Keynes. Red Rose 37 has been diverted from the start of next week.
So that's a bit of the money saved not saved, as it were.

Never mind, eh? Folk can always go by car, increase pollution, increase stress and costs to the community at large. But it does save money!

Or the non car owning good folk of Astwood can stroll up the road from their unmarked bus stop ...
... (by the Old Swan pub, nice bench) to the by-pass. Here they can watch Stagecoach X5s whizz past non-stop every 30 minutes.
Somehow you have to wonder whether the bus companies, the tendering authorities or/and Mrs May and her cronies have got it right?

Slower buses, less attractive to the passenger?

Buses going where the passenger doesn't want to go?

Slick and profitable express coaches promoted to the detriment of local travel?

More cars on the road?

More social isolation?

Increased Social Care costs which "we can no longer afford"?

There is definitely something wrong, somewhere!

P.S. If you happen to live in Newport Pagnell, you lose service 40 a day early as below.
Newport Pagnell - Christmas Lights

Due to the Christmas Lights Switch-On along the High Street in Newport Pagnell on 26 November 2016 we will be unable to serve ALL stops in Newport Pagnell.

Passengers are advised to make alternative travel arrangements on this data.

Don't forget to make alternative arrangements on this data (sic).

 Next information blog : Thursday 24th November 


  1. A pedant writes: The statement that due to the switch on "we will be unable to serve ALL stops in Newport Pagnell" suggests that they might be able to serve SOME of them. I suspect what they mean is "we will be unable to serve ANY stops. . . ."

  2. Interesting article. Whilst I think MK Council have been pretty good at saving subsidised (town) services there are many villages as well as the ones you mentioned affected by the cuts. Woburn, Aspley Guise and Stoke Goldington are other villages that come to mind in MK Borough that don't have direct services to MK Centre. It is very frustrating as it makes those places very unappealing at travelling too by public transport.