The lunacy, much less the audacity to suggest it, of Wiltshire Concillors, and their inability to accept reality, is highlighted in September by the singlemost insane campaign to-date; Catch a Bus Month.
“A double-decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road and switching just one journey in 25 to the bus would save two million tonnes of CO2 emissions,” the article on their website begins, because everyone in Wiltshire has been waiting for them to tell them this.
Assuming it’s us neglecting environmental concerns as the reason we don’t take the bus, as opposed to the utterly appalling and unaffordable service available to us, in their infinite wisdom they’ve invented “Catch the Bus Month,” where “Wiltshire Council is taking part to encourage more people to change their travel habits by taking the bus and celebrate it as a sustainable, inclusive and accessible form of transport.” Seriously promoting this hairbrained scheme on social media seemingly without the foggiest notion of the backlash of criticism anyone with a working brain cell would’ve forseen.
A flourish of negative responses errupted, some stating how their village bus service was cut, others complaining it’s simply not affordable or accessible. Others telling stories of being thrown off buses before their stop to make way for other passengers, being rudely addressed by drivers and their issues not being dealt with by the bus companies.
Personally I’ve found bus drivers of extremities, they’re either exceptionally happy and willing to please, or grumpy as sin; there is no middle-ground. One once sped off before I could get my daughter seated, and her pushchair collapsed in time, a toddler at the time, resulting in her hitting her head. My complaint fell on deaf ears. Now they’re at senior school the bus fee would be over a thousand pounds each, annually; a journey I can drive for far less. And that is the unfortunate reality.
Everyone knows if you’re relying on the local bus service you’re best taking a tent, and for shift workers the bus simply wouldn’t get them to work on time, even if they were reliable to turn up. Forgo reliability for a second and consider the timetable, imagine a night bus, but keep your disillusionment, most stop running by 5pm at the latest; everybody, tea and time for bed.
“The Department or Transport’s (DfT) National Bus Strategy requires local authorities to form enhanced legal partnerships with bus operator,” it says, “and the council is working on a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to achieve a vision for a better bus network.”
Cllr Laura Mayes, Deputy Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the bus companies with a combined aim of increasing usage and improving the service across Wiltshire.”
Here’s a thought, and it is just a thought, then, not that I’m the expert, but how about Wiltshire Council actually improve the service first, then have this “celebratory” Catch the Bus Month when it’s done and it’s actually reasonable and affordable to catch the damn things?! Unless, of course, you’re collecting laughing emojis on your social media posts… I know I am, but that’s intentional.
Catch the bus month, oh, my years. It’s Wiltshire Council who need to take a bus journey, to another county, and see how much better they’re doing!