Today, the blog’s author had cause to visit relative’s who live in a village, in the area covered by this blog. As in many small communities, they are in receipt of a free parish magazine, full of community notices and advertisements for local businesses. One piece, however, caught the author’s eye. It was a petition for a Sunday and Bank Holiday bus service. The village in question receives a decent weekday, and Saturday service.
No doubt, the person organising this campaign has a genuine need for such a service, and even my relatives said the convenience would be nice. The petitioner was asking for a morning, lunchtime and afternoon journey – to aid shoppers on their way to the local town. But how viable is this? The answer, sadly, is not very. Especially as the petition is to the County Council (not the local bus operator), and with the current cuts expected to the transport budget, council’s are likely to be facing the situation of looking to cut funding for services, rather than to expand their subsidies.
The truth is, some years ago the County Council actually funded such journeys, but with little demand, the routes were withdrawn. In truth, the same would likely perpetuate were the service to be re-introduced. How many of the signatories of the petition would actually use it? Likely, very few. They want the convenience of the service existing, but would probably use it once in a blue moon.
The blog’s author is not trying to discourage communities from taking interest in their bus services (hence why I’ve not named the village in question), but in reality petitions such as this are likely to achieve little. If the service was viable, the operator would run it commercially. If it was commercially non-viable, but there was demand, the County Council would have continued funding for the previous service.