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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Buses: Some good news following meetings with Metro

Metro ran 3 meetings in the Town Hall yesterday evening and met with many representatives of the Hebden Bridger Action Group and the communities affected by the proposals.

Dave Pearson and Clare Davies were there representing Metro.

The good news is that as a direct result of HBAG and the wider community's engagement with and lobbying of Metro the tendering process for new buses was overhauled and so, subject to the received tenders being appropriate and approval by Metro's governing body, the buses that run the majority of routes will remain at the same size as they are currently.

This was one of the key issues that members of HBAG had repeatedly raised with Metro as under the old proposals the Hebden Bridger routes would have had buses that seated only 16 passengers with no standing passengers allowed but the new proposals favour the current size of bus which accommodates more than three times that number (49 including standing passengers). Under the old proposals this would have meant passengers being stuck at bus stops on windy hilltops or waiting to get home from the valley for an hour or more due to bus overcrowding.

The 16 seater buses would also have had less room for wheelchair users, pushchairs and shopping than the current ones and as such many (55 people who responded to Metro's survey said this) had serious concerns about the accessibility of the buses- there was a real risk that some of the people who rely on the buses the most wouldn't have been able to use them.

It is thanks to the community coming together and working so hard to lobby Metro on this that Metro have made this radical change to their proposals and so enabled the villages around Hebden Bridge to remain connected. 242 individual response were received to the consultation which is an excellent response rate for a community of our size. In addition there have been many people lobbying Metro staff and Councillors directly. Dave Pearson stated at last night's meeting that it was HBAG's meeting with him at the end of August that made clear to him that the old bus size proposals were not tenable. This will have been compounded by the 49 people who raised this issue specifically in the consultation survey and the 55 people who raised concerns about the proposed buses' accessibility.

Other positive news from the meeting was that Metro hope to seek agreement from all operators running local routes to allow a sensible through ticketing structure. (Many had been concerned that if different operators ran the Hebden Bridger and valley services that passengers would have to buy two separate tickets with the consequent expense.)

Metro are looking at making the new A/B route less circuitous.

The one piece of less positive new was that there had not been any movement on the removal of the 591/3 service. These are commercially run routes that are not subsidised by Metro. However Metro have said that they will go back to First (who run these routes) and ask them to consider continuing to run these at certain peak times.

A representative from HBAG is speaking at the bus scrutiny meeting at Metro in October when these updated proposals will hopefully be approved. Dave Pearson has offered to meet with the community again before the final award of contracts to update us on further progress and to seek input from us on any changes.

Thanks to Duncan Watson of the Hebden Bridger Action Group for this news

Previously, on the HebWeb

HebWeb News: Labour candidate takes bus boss for a ride 17 September 2013

HebWeb News: Hebden Bridger Action Group formed following public meeting 15 August 2013

HebWeb Forum: Metro Bus Service Consultation July-August 2013

HebWeb Forum: Proposed Bus Changes (April-May 2013)

HebWeb Forum: Bus problems, again (Nov 2012 - Feb 2013)

HebWeb News: Hebden Bridge Bus Services Consultation, over proposed changes from April 2013

HebWeb Forum: Hebden Bridger bus problems again! (February-September 2012 - 139 messages)