February 2022: Teenage Voice
Bus services are so vital
IN our current landscape, it’s clear that we need to reconsider our personal choices as to how we get from A to B - but is our public transport offer fit for purpose?
The Covid-19 pandemic has massively impacted the public transport sector; with staff absences, a lack of funding, and a lack of demand during periods of lockdown, the industry has essentially been left for dead. However, the work of its staff has been paramount in ensuring the survival of one of our most necessary public services.
As someone who heavily relies on local bus services, I’m fully aware of the difficulties faced by transport workers, and the industry on the whole, with cancellations and early terminations essentially becoming the norm due to the number of staff absences due to Covid-19. These changes have had an immense impact on young people, who depend on local buses, trains, and other forms of public transport as a means to get around, with many using these services to travel to places of education and employment.
It's also clear that with the recently proposed national ‘Bus Strategy’, that our local services are becoming more and more determined by the government, essentially preventing public transport from suiting the needs of the local area, instead focusing on the demands of the country as a whole. This isn’t all bad of course, as it allows parity between different districts and counties, though when it comes down to routes being scrapped, season-ticket inflation and prioritisation of urban areas, smaller areas such as Kingswood, and other areas within South Gloucestershire are clearly being left behind.
In Kingswood alone, we’ve seen threats to our local bus services increase over the last few years, most notably proposals to scrap the direct route to Cossham and Southmead Hospital last summer. Even now, after immense public pressure and lobbying, the route has still been altered, missing out the southern part of Lodge Road and Soundwell Road due to ‘ongoing issues with the road and parked vehicles’. As well as this, First Bus have announced that early journeys to Bath on the 19 via Kings Chase Shopping Centre will also reduce in frequency, which could affect those who commute to work early in the morning.
The most devastating thing is that further services are likely to be axed in the upcoming months, with funding introduced during the pandemic set to be cut at the end of March, and it’s highly unlikely that much positive progress will be made in the next few years.