Saturday, 6 November 2010

Traws Cambria consultation

The Welsh Assembly Government are taking a week out from persecuting wildlife to seek views about the TrawsCambria network. The consultation is open until the 12th December and you can respond by email or post (they have not provided an online option).

We recommend that you respond to the consultation if you want to see improved public transport options. Possible things to mention include the following.

The need for external cycle racks at the front of buses. Arriva has some buses with racks - but passengers are not allowed to use them. Arriva put them on the backs of the buses, then decided they weren't usable because the driver had to get out to check them, and if the bus lane was on the main road they said it was a risk that a car could hit the cyclist as he put his bike on. So that project was a huge waste of money. Both problems are avoided with front-mounted bike racks. Many buses going to the middle of nowhere have hardly any passengers and have to be subsidised or cut. Yet if they had cycle racks and cyclists could then get to those places it would increase the number of passengers. Cyclists wouldn't mind paying an extra pound or two per bike.

The need for a guarantee that passengers with folding bikes would be allowed on the bus. CIN spoke to Arriva buses customer support on 24th August 2010. They pointed out that even folding bicycles are only allowed on the bus at the bus driver's discretion. Therefore those people trying to be environmentally-friendly and socially-conscious by planning days out or holidays that combine public transport with cycling could face these situations:
  1. They could plan a cycling holiday, book leave, book accomodation, pack etc - then at the bus stop get refused access with the folding bike. Holiday cancelled.
  2. They could go somewhere on the bus with a folding bike, but then not be allowed back on with their bike for the return journey at the end of the day, leaving them stuck in the middle of nowhere with night coming on.
Improved fare information is needed: both inside the buses and on websites. At present it seems to vary from day to day and driver to driver.

Clear and simple ticket options. Why is the return ticket from Aberystwyth to Carmarthen the same price as the single? (£4.70). If the prices of returns and singles are so similar, why not just make every ticket a return ticket and give people more options?

Improved facilities for long journeys. In 2005 Arrive switched from the 701 service to the X40. The 701 service included proper coaches with toilets. A four hour journey from Aberystwyth to Cardiff was at least comfortable. However the replacement X40 service is just a normal bus with inadequate space and uncomfortable seating – not good on a long journey. No toilets and no timetabled toilet breaks - so if you travel from Cardiff to Aberystwyth (or vice versa) you can't risk drinking for many hours before you set off, leaving you dehydrated by the end of the journey.

More direct services between Aberystwyth and Swansea/Cardiff. Many people just want to get on a bus at one end of a journey and get off at the other, without having to change seats or means of transportation. However the number of direct services keeps getting cut. This process began in 2005 when Arriva dropped the Sunday morning return from Cardiff to Aberystwyth, leaving only the Sunday evening return, which was also made an hour later! So anyone wanting to travel north now would get home around ten hours after they could have done on the old 701 service. The Friday 5pm direct service from Aberystwyth to Swansea was cut completely back then too, yet it was a useful time for those wishing to go to south Wales for the weekend, and avoided having an early start on the Saturday.

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