Villagers around Devizes stranded by bus services cuts bid
Pioneering flexible bus services between Devizes and the Pewsey Vale are set to become fixed routes but some villages will lose their service all together.
Wiltshire Council is proposing major changes to the Connect2 Wiltshire bus services, which have run for 15 years, to save money.
Under the proposals, the route between Devizes and Pewsey will not serve Bishops Cannings, Horton, Coate, Wedhamp-ton and Urchfont.
The Night Bus, which runs between Devizes and Pewsey, taking in the villages of Allington, All Cannings, Bishops Cannings, Coate, Chirton, Etchilhampton, Horton, Patney, Stert and Urchfont on Saturday nights and serving Pewsey, Marlbor-ough and surrounding villages Monday to Friday, would be axed.
The Devizes Taxibus service, providing a daily service between Devizes and Marlborough, Monday to Friday, would be reduced to Thursdays only.
The Night Bus and Taxibus service each cost £35,000 a year to run.
The changes, set to be introduced in October, would mean a watershed for responsive bus services in rural areas which began in 1999 when the Wigglybus was set up.
It was an idea from the Pewsey Vale Transport Appraisal Group and initially funded by the Government. In 2007 the Wigglybus was swallowed up by Connect2 Wiltshire, run by the then Wiltshire County Council, but continued to operate by people booking the bus to come through their village.
Wiltshire Council is consulting on the plans and Ian White, head of service passenger transport, says in a letter: “The existing Connect2 Wiltshire services are relatively costly to operate and some journeys are poorly used. The council is, therefore, looking for a more cost-effective way of providing a service that meets the needs of the area at an affordable cost to the council.
“One aspect of the proposals is that the current bookable services would be replaced by fixed route timetabled services. This would allow a significant saving to be made as there would no longer be a need to pay for a call centre or booking system.”
Dorothy Robertson, 90, of Etchilhampton uses the Connect2 Wiltshire service at least three times a week as she does not drive.
She said: “The timings on the proposed fixed route are not realistic.
“The greatest loss to us will be the flexibility of the buses, which can pick people up on demand quite close to their homes.
“Under the proposals the bus will not come into Etchilhampton, it will come into the edge of the village which will mean another ten minutes to walk to and there’s no footpath.”
Kate Freeman, of Etchilhampton, and who n Continued on Page 2
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