Stoke-on-Trent Passengers Board the Bus to Fight Against Subsidy Cuts

The public of Stoke-on-Trent came out in force yesterday [Thursday] to speak out against the City Council’s decision to cut bus subsidies in a bid to save £313,000 as a part of their crusade to impose cuts totalling £35million over the coming year.

The public gallery as well as one of the committee rooms were packed to the rafters in a public show of solidarity in sending a message to the council that the bus subsidy cut would leave some people stranded at home and unable to access town centres, leisure facilities and supermarkets.

The council’s decision to cut the bus subsidies was voted through as a part of a whole host of austerity measures at last month’s Budget Meeting in a bid to rationalise services in the city as a result of the 8% cut in government funding to the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

Between three bus operators, First, Wardles and D&G, a total of 44 services will be affected.

Community representatives delivered and presented petitions, asking for certain routes to be saved, to the meeting of the City Council from areas such as Chell, Packmoor, Brindley Ford and Penkhull.

The petitioners pleaded with the elected councillors present to save what they consider to be a vital lifeline and the economic benefit to traders their travel bring.
Inside the chamber Community Voice councillors attacked the Labour benches for encouraging the public to campaign against the subsidy cuts while proposing them and then voting them through.

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] said that Labour had attempted to deceive the public over the cuts to bus routes. He said it was vital the all councillors told the truth out on the streets and that the only councillors that had a clear conscious over the subsidy cuts were his group and the other councillors who voted against the budget.

Coalition councillors told the meeting that council officers were working with the bus companies and alongside ward councillors and communities, resolutions had been found to most of the contentious bus services.

One member of the public shouted out his dissent from the public gallery and said that he was disgusted by the councils treatment of members of the public that had turned out to view the proceedings. We recorded an audio interview with him and he wished to be known as “ËœBus Driver’

Listen below.

We also recorded audio’s with Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice], Cllr Brian Ward [CIG] who is also the cabinet member with responsibility and with the Council Leader Mohammed Pervez [Labour].

Cllr Pervez also gave his thought on the past year and what he thought that the council had achieved.

How Can People Use Public Transport When The Cost Is Preventative?

By Tony Walley.

Why is it that this city keeps constantly shooting itself in the foot?

In an age where we are consistently told to calculate our carbon footprint and to protect the environment, how can we as a society turn to public transport when the costs keep going up?

We are expecting a massive change to our city’s skyline over the next few years. Regeneration will deliver exciting new shopping centres along with a brand new business quarter which will compliment the existing cultural district.

We want to encourage our citizens to access an improving public transport
Infrastructure. Only a few months ago the “Streetcar” bus rapid transit routes were announced.

This “bendy bus” concept should provide improved links for all the City of Stoke on Trent. Planned routes will improve public transport from locations in which people live to areas in which new jobs and regeneration are planned for the region.

Example of a Street Car

Example of a Street Car

Routes will link the City Centre, Staffordshire University, Stoke Railway Station and Stoke Town Centre to Keele University, Newcastle town centre and the University Hospital in the West, with links from the City Centre to Burslem, Tunstall and Kidsgrove in the North. Another route will link Festival Park to Longton and the Meir, with potential connections to the new employment opportunities at Trentham lakes.

But how will people be encouraged to use our existing bus service yet alone any proposed improved public transport, when our city’s major partner keeps increasing the costs?

First Bus have announced plans to increase fares from next month. The increases ““ between 3.6 per cent and six per cent ““ also come as figures show fewer passengers are catching the bus. This will mean that adult passengers will have to pay an extra 10p per journey, 70p more for a weekly pass and £2 more for a monthly pass.

Speaking in the Sentinel, First’s Commercial Director Paul De Santis said: “We have looked at all our costs to keep them to a minimum, but we are still finding it necessary to increase our fares. We are also suffering a declining number of people using our buses as people make cost-saving changes to their travel habits.

“Therefore we have needed to make some price changes to meet the ongoing challenge of rising costs to our business.

“We appreciate nobody likes it when prices go up but we have worked hard to keep any increases to a minimum and have managed to freeze the price of the peak daily ticket.

“This will be a real benefit to those travelling to work and those who use more than one bus on their journeys.”

Is he nuts? People are not catching the bus because of people making ‘cost-saving changes’, so he’s going to put the prices up?!

As well as the 6% increase on adult fares, the increase will mean that child fares will rise by 4.5%.  Weekly, monthly and quarterly tickets will rise by 3.6%.

Over to you what do you think about the increase cost of using public transport in our city?”¦.