Discussion Forum

Hebden Bridger Bus Services

Posted by Andrew Hall
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

You may not be yet aware, but Metro are planning severe cuts to the Hebden Bridger bus services from mid April.

The routes mainly affected are the services to Eaves, Fairfield, Foster Lane and Hardcastle Crags. With the exception of a few buses on a Thursday to take people to market, I understand that all these services are being withdrawn.

Metro's leaflet in January says 'Some changes will be made in April 2006 ...some poorly used journeys may need to be withdrawn.' Note the word 'journeys'. Nothing was said about whole services.

It is ironic that the people who will suffer most are the elderly, the very people who are to receive free bus travel as from April! At the time I wondered how this would be financed. And of course, when you think about it, the way to finance it is to withdraw services so that there's no demand!

Seriously, this is going to cause a lot of people hardship. I know of elderly people living on the Eaves Estate who are already precluded from using the railway station because of the stairs on Platform 2. The withdrawal of their bus service will remove their only way of getting into town.

These cuts may only be the thin end of the wedge. Even if your route is as yet unaffected, or you do not use the bus (yet), I urge you to contact your local councillors or Chris McCafferty or even Metro themselves. These cuts are an absolute disgrace.

Posted by Christine
Saturday, March 18, 2006

I have just wrote this letter to Metro so thought I would share it with the forum:

The Fairfield bus was very busy before you changed the timetable a few years ago. There used to be a bus at 08:25 which most parents used with their kids, it also served the high school in Mytholmroyd as that was the next route it went on.

There is no bus from Fairfield to Hebden Bridge between 07:47 and 09:47, so there is no morning school run service.

There was a bus at 15:25 which was used a lot as the kids finished school at 15.15. Both these services were removed during the making up of the last new timetable. So a lot of parents walk their kids to and from school as there is not a service available to them at the right time to and from school.

The new buses you bought were always breaking down and the first bus route that was cancelled when any of the busses broke down was the Fairfield bus without notice to the passengers.

There was a man collecting numbers on the bus during the time before you changed the timetable so the numbers are there.

Is this a case of changing the services so they become useless and then axing them? There are a lot of old age pensioners up Fairfield and it is up a hill. The old age pensioners up Fairfield and Eaves obviously don't need to shop and socialise with other people. The cost of getting to Fairfield when I moved here was 25 pence and now it is 55 pence: this is for a 3 minute journey.

I also can't work out how the Hardcastle Craggs bus is being cancelled as it is used a lot during the summer by tourists who come in on the train from other places. Are you going to inform tourists only to visit on a Thursday?

Hebden Bridge has been in the paper for being a "Town for little shops" so these are obviously only for the tourist and not for the people who live in Hebden Bridge according to Metro.

The people in Fairfield, Eaves, Hardcastle Crags and Foster Lane all pay Council Tax so does this mean we will get a discount from Metro for the part of our council tax that pays them? There is not a timetable at the train station stop for the buses to Mytholmroyd (Cragg Vale).

Posted by Jonathan Timbers
Monday, March 27, 2006

The closure (except on Thursdays) of services F (Eaves), G (Fairfield) and H (Hardcastle Craggs) is yet another example of poor business planning and the democratic deficit. Metro, the public authority, seems unconcerned that its decision will have a profound effect on people with mobility impairments who rely on the buses to maintain their independence, and may wish to use them to get out of the house and into the countryside.

No one was asked about the changes, not any of the drivers or the many customers who use the services from time to time.

As a result, in Eaves, for instance, we have the absurd situation where 10 buses (some of them poorly timetabled) will be reduced at a stroke to 0 - it's not a case of even halving the service because of poor numbers. The service is to be extinguished.

In considering this decision, it is difficult to comprehend either the business practices of First, the operator, or Metro's commitment to public services. And they both need to give some answers about their financial management of the scheme and some justification for the negative impact that their decision will have on those who are most dependent on public transport.

Metro and First Bus need to explain to the taxpayers who fund or subsidise them why a service expansion has suddenly turned into a significant reduction in service provision, notwithstanding extra government funds. Have those funds run out? If so, why?

In Lincolnshire, the County Council, which has far less resources than Metro, run an excellent bus service with guaranteed pick up in isolated rural areas. It does this by means of its 'Call Connect' and 'Call Connect Plus' services. 'Call Connect' diverts from pre-set routes to pick up passengers; 'Call Connect Plus' operates over a wider area and is totally flexible. (see website)

With this sort of example around, Metro has a successful model for controlling costs and offering a comprehensive service in rural and semi-rural areas. The fact is, however, it chooses not to, at the moment, even though it could actually expand its range of services cost-effectively by adopting a variant of this model. What it lacks is commitment, and I am sure that we are not being told the whole story about the management of the scheme.

People in Eaves and Fairfield are disgusted by the decision and Metro has not heard the last from me or others about it, not by a long chalk.

Five more years for Hebden Bridger