When Firstbus diverted the no. 24 bus from the London Road area and sent it to Asda instead, this caused a lot of unhappiness for bus users in Grange and Sweyne Park wards. The no. 24 bus was particularly valued as although it was only once per hour, it was a lot more reliable than the no. 25 bus that is supposed to come every half-hour.
So when a public meeting was arranged for tonight to discuss the situation, it’s not surprising that over 100 people attended. Mr Dorr, the Manager Director of Fisrtbus came along to listen and respond..
Feelings were soon running very high. One person complained that the bus fleet was a disgrace – most buses were rattling, shaking and dirty and should be replaced. Another man said that to get to a 2:00 pm appointment today, he had had to aim to catch the 1:00 pm no. 25 bus in case the 1:30 pm bus didn’t turn up. So he got to the bus stop at 12:50 pm, and the bus didn’t come until 1:25 pm! One retired businesswoman said she thought Firstbus marketed their buses very poorly. Another lady complained about the lack of an evening bus service.
But the main complaint was about the shifting away of the no. 24 route. Mr Dorr was giving a pretty rough ride by his customers (pardon the pun). However he pointed out that he had to run things on a commercial basis , the no 24 route had been losing money and bus services had been hit by 1) the deregulation of buses in 1985 under Mrs Thatcher 2) the new system of concessionary fares which produced less funding for bus companies and 3) the soaring cost of fuel.
When Mr Dorr said that when the route was diverted it had yielded 700 more passengers in a 3-month period than before, he was almost drowned out by the noises of sheer disbelief from the public (although 700 passengers in three month period is only about 8 per day!)
The only real signs of progress were that Mr Dorr said he would be asking the County Council for a subsidy to help finance an extra service along the London Road area – although the service to Asda was likely to stay.
All in all, a good meeting that might just lead to something,