Letter to First Bus

Posted on: 16th November 2013

Dear Mr Carter,

Changes to Bus Routes 10/10A Affecting Pendeen

Yesterday I met with a group of local people at Boscaswell Corner Pendeen, in a bus shelter that no longer has any buses stopping at it. The residents handed me a copy of the petition they have sent to you with, I understand, 400 signatures on it. It asks your company to reinstate the previous bus services to the village. My intention in writing to you is to highlight my key concerns arising from the changes and to propose simple improvements that could be made now. These would not involve your returning to the previous routes and timetables, although that might be the ideal resolution. I will also highlight another concern relating to the condition of buses operating and the effect that has on the reliability of the service.

Previously two circular routes served Pendeen and St Just, connecting them to Penzance. One went Penzance, Pendeen, St Just and the other Penzance, St Just, Pendeen. Now the bus travels back and forth along the same route between St Just and Boscaswell Estate. These means that there is no service to half of the village of Pendeen from Boscaswell Corner to Portheras Cross. Along that stretch there are two estates where many elderly and disabled people live. Also, beyond Portheras is the hamlet of Bojewyan. Whilst the moderately fit bus users could walk to Portheras Cross only those with strong walking ability will be able to make it to Boscaswell Corner.

I recently attended a talk by Dr David Oliver, visiting Fellow of the Kings Fund, and he stresses the importance of enabling the frail and elderly to maintain their independence and avoid social isolation, in terms of being able to remain fit and healthy. He stressed the importance of a holistic attitude in our communities. He made the point that reducing bus services in rural areas can inadvertently lead to the frail and elderly becoming more housebound and this is a slippery slope to increased falls, hospitalisation and dependency on more costly services.

Whilst I recognise that the health and well-being of the elderly and frail of Pendeen may not be the top priority of your company, I think it is a reasonable consideration when responding to what local people and I am asking to improve the local bus provision.

Further issues that I would like to draw to your attention are that

  • The bus stops from Bosacaswell to Portheras have all been altered to enable disabled access to buses but none are now in use. The bus stops in the other direction, that remain in use, have not been altered, making it difficult for disable passengers managing to get to Boscaswell Corner, to actually get on the bus.
  • Now that there are no buses travelling from Pendeen direct to Penzance, the journey time is significantly extended, affecting people getting to work, in particular.
  • There are capacity issues at peak times of travel as in effect, there are now half the bus places available on the route (St Just was having 2 buses an hour even though Pendeen was hourly, as it is now). I have reports of young people going to college standing in the stair well, by the driver, a safety issue I would have thought.
  • I also receive regular reports of buses not arriving due to break downs. This is not an issue arising from the changed routes but its impact is much greater now. Just last week this occurred. In St Just, whereas this previously meant waiting an extra half an hour it now means waiting an hour. I also learnt of a disabled person who had struggled to get from Portheras to Boscaswell so when the bus did not arrive she was faced with the choice of struggling home and back or waiting a full hour for the next bus.

If, in the short term, it is not viable financially for your company to revert to the previously run 10/ 10A routes then I would ask you to give urgent consideration to the following minor changes.

  • At peak times the 7.20 to 8.15 buses and 16.20 to 17.10 leaving Penzance, revert to the previous operation of the 10/10A i.e a clockwise and anti-clockwise route between Penzance, St Just and Pendeen.
  • For the rest of the day make a slight adjustment to the route of the 10. From St Just, stick to the main coast road instead of turning off to Botallack and proceed to Boscaswell Estate, as now. Then, instead of waiting there for 7 mins, continue on to Portheras cross roads, turn right along North Road and then right again down to Trewellard. At the bottom of Trewellard Hill, turn left (now back on the original route) returning to St Just via Botallack. The advantage this will provide is that the bus will provide a new service to Trewellard where there are many potential passengers, if the service were to be stopping closer to their homes (the only issue being to agree stopping places).

I hope you will give this letter your full consideration. I would be happy to meet with you or any of your staff to consider these local matters. I know that other councillors have concerns on other parts of this route and I am sure they will be addressing these to you. I plan to copy this letter and pass the copy petition to Bert Biscoe, the Cornwall Cabinet member for Transport and Waste. I am also making this an open letter so that my concerns and proposals are publically known.

Yours sincerely

Sue James, Cornwall Councillor St Just In Penwith