A plea to the route masters

Thursday 7th May 2015 10:00 pm
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Lindsay Ward, of Barracks Road, Modbury, writes: Last week I had the very great pleasure of travelling on the 875 bus service, which ­connects Bigbury-on-Sea to Plymouth. I had not used the service before, but did so in order to see for myself the very great value of the service to local people. I joined the bus with a friend and several others at Bigbury. A third of the seats were now taken. We then continued on the winding lanes, stopping in places to pick up more passengers and carrying on first to St Anne's Chapel, then Ringmore, Challaborough, and finally back to Kingston, before heading on to Modbury, where I got off the bus. By this stage the seats of the bus were all taken and the bus was full of chatter and laughter. The bus clearly provides a valuable service for the people of the peninsula of Bigbury, Ringmore and Kingston ­parishes, taking them to centres such as Modbury and Plymouth once a week to shop or use other services. For a town such as Modbury the bus provides an opportunity for local people to come and spend a few hours there shopping, enjoying a local walk and possibly having lunch. Perhaps the most important value I observed was the camaraderie of the people using the service who had come to know each other. They were chatting across the seats and catching up on news from across the villages. It is a vital service for people who do not own a car, or who cannot drive, or who may ­simply want to meet with ­others once a week. There is a proposal to reroute this service via Ivybridge, but without lengthening the ­journey as the bus is used for school runs. This would mean a much longer bus journey and would allow a little over two hours in Plymouth – hardly enough time for most. Given the increase in potential passengers on return, there would be the risk of not being able to join the bus and being stranded in Plymouth. The reason for the proposal, I suspect, is to compensate for the proposed changes to the Fare Car service from Bigbury to Ivybridge. This was flagged up recently on the Devon County Council website: the 875 reroute was not because it does not generate any savings. So if the rerouting of the 875 does not generate any savings, then it is not worth doing. It will hardly be worth using by those who depend on it every week; and for the council tax payers in the Bigbury, Kingston and Ringmore parishes it is in my opinion an unfair move that limits further the return that they get for paying their council tax. Furthermore, while the Fare Car service may be seen as ­costly per passenger, the ­relative savings it would ­generate from being reduced to once a week are hardly worth it. Please, Devon County Council, think carefully about these proposals. To reroute the 875 would be totally wrong.

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