|Bus service costs 25 pounds per passenger to run?
Wiltshire's Wiggley Bus is provided to give public transport access to people who aren't near the regular services. You phone up, and it drops by your way on part of its flexiroute from Devizes to Pewsey, or whatever.
Wiggley Bus in Calne (about 6 miles from Melksham) is a newish operation, and I was talking with a local councillor the other day who had been chatting with the lady from Wilts County Council. I understand that it costs TWENTY FIVE POUNDS for each journey made, and I'm sure the fares taken can't be that high.
[[Edit - added later - I have just been emailed to tell me that the figures I have been given incorrect and the subsidy per journey is only a fraction of that - more like 4 pounds per journey. And that's from a source I trust. So why was Xxxxx told the 25 pound figure? Honest mistake? Perhaps. I know I get tired of being quoted anywhere from 100k to 630k pounds to hire a train appropriate for a line as it all depends on what's counted in and what's counted out ...]]
Wiggley bus is run under a startup grant and after two years faces having to run without that grant. The county are most anxious to find a co-sponsor or pathner to take overe responsibility.
Hearing this leads me to think ... these startup grants ARE still available; what if our county council help acquire a new grant for a new regular, 2 hourly train service from Swindon to Westbury with connections on to Salisbury and Southampton. It couldn't start until mid December since that's when the next timetable change is due, but the new two-hourly service could take over and grow from the service that had prevously used the line.
[[Edit to add - I'm reminded that the wigglybus is subsidised by a bus-specific grant and so the same source would NOT pay for a new train service. Sounds a bit like Animal Farm. "4 legs good, 2 legs bad" becomes "Rubber wheels good, Steel wheels bad"]]
A problem with funding after two years? I think not - there's a huge history of growth on the corridor, and after two years the service should be self sufficient. People would use regular trains, reliable trains. The County Council has the resiting of Melksham station in its plans, and that would boost traffic from there ... new housing right beside the new station would help.
Good value? I applaud Wiltshire County Council's efforts to get good public transport for all. And if the Wiggley bus is good value, then the TransWilts train is superb value.
Written 2006-05-18 23:44:55
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