Saturday 4 June 2011

Nutty Northamptonshire Notions?

From our correspondent on the spot.
Northampton County Hall
But first, your exam:-

What is Northamptonshire doing with its bus tender (subsidy) budget? Cutting it completely. Partly Correct.

How is the County going to replace lost services. It isn't. Practicably Correct.

But what about communities where there are no buses, leaving people trapped in their own homes?  What has the County said it will do? From September 5th, it says that it will create a new and revolutionary network. Possibly Correct.

What are the chances that this new network will be successful? None. Probably Correct.

4 out of 4. Well done! You clearly understand the Council's policies.  Cynical, moi?

Our local correspondent had just attended one of a series of "consultation" meetings in fbb's former home town. He is able to assess the policy as presented by councillors at that meeting. He writes:-

"Northamptonshire's "strategy", better known as "Micawber Management (something will turn up)" seems to be:-
Wilkins Micawber waiting for something to turn up!

"Persuade or coerce the bus companies to declare that a route is commercial; possibly resulting in schedules that are difficult or impossible to keep to.
  Connections are regularly missed on this "interim" facility

"Hope that the volunteer operated community bus from Little Dribbling can cover Great Dribbling as well or that Bigtown Community Transport can toddle out into the countryside out of the kindness of the organiser's philanthropic heart.  So far no-one has explained where the necessary extra resources will come from; i.e. Money and Drivers.   
Many struggle to find enough drivers.

"A big bus going every hour between Lower Chukkup and Little Dribbling is (to quote Messrs Sellar and Yeatman in "1066 and all That") a "bad thing" because there are only five passengers on it. The fact that it may have set down many more, will pick up more further along the route or it's three in the afternoon and there's a very large school on the route has escaped them. Anyway a frequency of every two hours is quite good enough for local yokels.
The right bus for smaller loads

"Hope that the Arthur Daley Bus Co. which has taken on a route commercially for a few weeks doesn't de-register it when they realise it will never turn a profit; or when their fourth-hand Leyland National drops to bits like a comedy circus car; or when the finance house repossesses their brand new low-floor Mercedes which they could never afford anyway.
maintenance has been a problem elsewhere      

"Demand responsive transport is the answer to everything and it will all be wonderful on September 5th; this despite the fact the it has been proved conclusively elsewhere to be one of the least effective ways of providing transport in rural areas."
several Hants Cango services withdrawn - too expensive

fbb is well aware that savings have to be made. There are experts in this field who have successfully developed viable networks at reduced cost whilst continuing to provide an acceptable level of service. One such is ...
... run by fbb's former boss, Stuart Linn.   Perhaps Northamptonshire should give him a ring; IF they can afford the phone call.

Next blog : due Monday June 6th   

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