Bus Cuts Extra

April 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Essex County Council has now conveyed a decision not to provide an evening service on the Arriva 8 to Hawkwell.

Here are a few quotes from an Essex County Council email which was sent to me in 2003 to explain why Ashingdon has a good bus service but Hawkwell has none. It still makes no sense to me reading it again 6 years later.

“Under the Essex Road Passenger Transport Strategy , Ashingdon counts as a rural parish with a population of 2937 (1991 census, updated 1998). This means that it falls into category 5 and should ideally have an hourly service (minimum 8 return journeys) 6 days per week and at least 2 return journeys on Sundays.  It should be noted that this is  a minimum service level and a higher service level can be provided if this is deemed necessary. In the event, the economics of running a service on the existing half hourly pattern meant that the benefit to doing so instead of reducing it to hourly was deemed to outweigh the cost. (Vehicle and driver commitment over the day makes up a large part of the fixed cost of a service and extra trips are then possible on marginal cost alone)”
So the reason for the evening 7 being half hourly rather than hourly as prescribed by policy is clearly explained by the economic model referred to.
It seems to me that the issue upon which bus services for Hawkwell revolves is the status of Hawkwell bus routes under ECC Policy.

“Hawkwell, with a population of 10,667 falls outside the definition of a ‘rural area’ adopted by the County from national governments definitions of a rural area for its Rural Bus Grants. Hawkwell is therefore treated as an urban area under the RPTS and looked at in association with the major settlements. Minimum services in urban areas are based on a corridor approach, with minimum service levels supported down specific named corridors (a similar system applied to interurban routes). As an example, for Rayleigh, the route between Hockley and the Town Centre is specified as  requiring a 30 minute frequency in the peaks, and 60 minutes at other times. Should the commercial provision fall below this level, the County would in principal look to intervene to support it. (There are other limiting factors such as a maximum subsidy per passenger journey of £5 which would also apply.)”
“Unfortunately no route is specified in this way for Hawkwell [eg.,it is not a specific named corridor] so in principle, under the ERPTS, the County Council is not obliged to cover the withdrawal of commercial services in this area. 
So the answer lies, in my opinion, in getting ECC to specify the Hawkwell Section of the 8 a “specific named corridor” following which ECC is obliged to cover the withdrawal of commercial services in this area both day time and evening.

It make no sense to me that Hawkwell with a population 5 times the size of Ashingdon has no evening bus service whereas Ashingdon has a bus every half hour.

And there is the ridiculous situation that there is only one day time bus per hour to the Rochford District’s flagship Leisure Centre which is in Hawkwell on the bus route and no buses at all in the evening. Surely this is enough alone to warrant the Hawkwell bus route being a “specific named corridor.” 

Our County Councillors need to get together and sort out the red tape that is such a nonsense to any sane mind.