Bus and Coach Operators to answer Members’ questions
(Councillor Holland (Exeter City Council) attended in accordance with 25(2) and spoke to this item).
Mr Williams, Commercial Director Stagecoach (Exeter) attended and spoke at the invitation of the Committee on developments affecting bus services and the network in Exeter and environs since the last meeting and, in particular on:
· minor timetabling changes as a result of the relocation of the Depot to Matford which had been completed on 25 September and the modern facilities for staff and bus maintenance and the significant investment made by the Company;
· investment of nearly £2m for new buses on Route 1;
· reducing the X46 service to Torbay from 28 November following passenger loss during the construction of the South Devon Highway and a new stop would be introduced at Matford Park & Ride to offer new employment links;
· changes to the network from 3 January reacting to market conditions: Routes 2 and 5 will see reduced frequencies, and new buses would be phased in on to route 2 in a new colour scheme to further promote the route;
· the success and growth of the South West Falcon service connecting Plymouth, Exeter and Bristol which would see the X38 to Plymouth reduced off peak;
· the Green and Blue Park & Ride services being combined to provide a cross-City link ( Heavitree to Matford or Alphington Road to Sowton) to be called Green;
· maintenance/enhancement work at Matford Park and Ride site noting that the current number of spaces would be maintained up to the run up to Christmas and reduced in January, pending the upgrade work and when complete there would be an overall increase from 423 – 477 + 8 disabled and 2 electric car bays but the overflow would no longer be available following the construction of the new Depot.
Additionally issues and/or observations identified during the course of discussions, included:
· the need for consistency of practices by drivers in respect of temporary dropping off and pick up points following the many changes and diversions as a result of the Cathedral Green fire and numerous road works in the City;
· Stagecoach’s priority to maintaining services during a period of change with the move to Matford and the needs of all staff members during this time, the additional pressures as a result of temporary service changes, noting that driver turnover/recruitment was not excessively high and the attempts by the Company in providing up to date information about temporary changes;
· changes to the X38 as a result of reduced patronage and confirmation that concessionary fares were not affected by the changes to the P&R services;
· the withdrawal of the dedicated bus from Stoke Hill School to St Peters School as a result of the decrease in patronage and availability of other Stagecoach services;
· the need to review stops in the High Street and Sidwell Street where servicing similar routes to assist passengers, which Mr Williams undertook to examine;
· electrical faults in the Bus Shelter, Fore Street, Exeter (by the Chevalier Public House) which needed attention by the County Council’s contractor.
The Chairman thanked the Stagecoach representatives on the updates and responses to Members’ questions.