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Standing Up for the Buses – the Progress Reports

Message dated 24th August 2022
The ‘Stand up for our buses’ group is meeting this evening. We’ll be thinking about ‘what next’ in the campaign, with very much a ‘whole route’ perspective being taken. Encouraging greater use of the service, now, will be on the agenda. A few reflections and questions.
  1. Data. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence emerging that the service is being more used but still no data to back this up (or contradict the impression). It is vital that we can accurately track, measure, analyse what is happening and demonstrate that there is a case for retaining and improving the service. Following on from your meeting with SBC officials last week, how confident are you that we will see sight of the numbers soon? Time is of the essence. We can’t afford to wait indefinitely.
  2. Consultation – any news on the important ‘inter-authority’ work going on. The impression is undoubtedly that the individual local authorities and transport agencies involved are predominantly ‘doing their own thing’, for example re consultation. If accurate, for a route that goes through 5 local authorities,  this fragmented and disjointed approach cannot be a good thing. Do you get any sense of a consultative process being planned that will connect the people and communities along the whole route? If not, do you think we need one?  Feedback from people and communities to ‘Stand up to our buses’ is that a ‘whole route consultation’ is an absolute must. 
  3. Community engagement. Our SBC Principal Transport Manager, Gordon Grant, spoke well at last night’s Tweeddale Area Partnership meeting. He again committed to visiting communities affected to listen to and learn directly from people who depend on the service, people who would like to use it more often and people with suggestions on how it could be improved. In the spirit of ‘keeping up the pressure’, please could you use your influence to help make this event happen asap. Again, time is of the essence. 
  4. Community representation – it is great that communities are being represented by their elected reps and community councils as they are. People are noticing. ‘Stand up for our buses’ has clearly become the campaigning vehicle that most people identify with and are engaging with – they lead the protests, got 10,000 signatures, brought elected reps and community councils along the route to forge a collective ‘whole route’ response, mobilised local and national media etc. People, communities, elected reps, community councils along the route are appreciating and welcoming what the group are doing and how they are doing it. As yet however,  there has been little or no ‘reach out’ from local authorities and transport authorities to the group. Bus Users UK are being touted as the ‘go to’ users group for SBC and SPT. No disrespect at all to Bus Users but there must surely also be room and need for the local, most impactful users group, ‘Stand up to our buses’, to also have a seat at the table. Can I ask, what  do the Community Councils on this email think? 
We’ll keep you posted on outcomes from the ‘Stand up for our buses’ meeting this evening,
Regards
Ian

 

 

 

Special Message 18th August 2022

We were copied into the following letter recently sent to all relevant elected reps and stakeholders by our health centre here in West Linton re the 101/2 bus service in particular and the vital need for good public transport services in general. Powerfully articulates why retaining and improving our bus services is crucial. With thanks 🚌🙏💪

🚌Stand up for our buses 🚌

“To Whom It May Concern,

West Linton Medical Practice would like to raise concerns to the potential issue with Stagecoach Buses and stopping the 101/2 service, Dumfries to Edinburgh.

Public transport is key to the village of West Linton and to all the smaller clusters and rural areas that are in our patient catchment area. We need to ensure that moving forward that public transport serves communities with a good and reliable service. Many of our patients rely on the bus service to attend the Health Centre and to get to medical appointments in Edinburgh and other hospitals. As a cross boundary Practice we work closely with NHS Borders and NHS Lothian and this bus service creates the ability for patients to attend these appointments. I know of patients who have attended the Borders General Hospital in Melrose by catching the 101 and transferring at Penicuik, a massive trip for an elderly couple, however without the public transport system they wouldn’t have attended at all.

Demographically we see an increase in the aging populations, our catchment also covers a nursing home and a large community for learning disability. Losing this service would have a huge impact on enabling people to travel.

The Councils will play a pivotal role in ensuring these services continue to be provided but not only that there is an expectation for the service to be improved. Removing public transport will exacerbate isolation within our communities. It will pressurise the already overloaded NHS Service when patients cannot attend appointments and then the demand falls to patient transport, which we already know can’t cope with the increased workload. I would also assume that this falls into the Council’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions.

These issues need to be tackled, we would urge that the current service remains in place as well as addressing where improvements can be made.

I would welcome an open discussion with you on this subject and would welcome a positive outcome to this uncertain issue. Yours Sincerely,

For and on behalf of West Linton Medical Practice

Lynne Paul Practice Manager West Linton Medical Centre

 

Stand up for our buses Progress Report    16th August

🚌 If we hadn’t stood up for our buses and fought the removal of the 101/2 bus service, it would have been withdrawn as of yesterday. A key part of village life would have gone. Winning a temporary reprieve until 31st March 2023 was a welcome victory of sorts, not least for the many people who depend on the 101/2. That said, everyone agreed that ‘the hard work has just begun’, the ultimate goal has to be securing the long-term future of the service. And……….we want/need to do all we can to improve the service as well.
🚌 It’s today that our West Linton/Carlops councillors are meeting with relevant Scottish Borders Council snr managers to keep the 101/2 bus service firmly on the agenda. They will have plenty to talk about. Viv Thomson and Drummond Begg are taking forward 2 specific actions from last week’s ‘Stand up for our buses’ meeting.
🚌 Viv will be emphasising the need for ‘joined up thinking’ and collaborative working between the 5 local authorities along the route. For example, will there be a ‘whole route’ consultation with people and communities along the route rather than the 5 authorities all doing their own thing (if anything). If ‘whole route’, who’s auspices will the consultation be done under?
🚌 Drummond – passenger use data. Drummond will be insisting that we have access to the most up to date West Linton passenger numbers. Although there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that passenger numbers have increased over the last month, current, regular and accurate data will help us track and understand exactly what the trends and patterns are.
🚌‘Stand up for our buses’ looks forward to hearing the main outcomes from this meeting. They will help inform and shape ‘what next’ in terms of the ongoing campaign. We’ll keep you posted 🚌🙏💪

 

🚌Stand up for our buses
🚌 Some of the main takeaways from last Sunday’s ‘Stand up for our buses’ meeting with councillors and community councillors from communities along the 101/2 route.
🚌Silverburn, Carlops, West Linton, Dolphinton, Biggar, Coulter, Lamington, Symington, Quothquan, Thankerton, Wiston, Abington, Crawford and Elvanfoot were represented.
🚌 Councillors and Community Councillors all acknowledged that if people and communities along the route hadn’t protested, campaigned, signed the petition, wrote to and emailed the ‘powers that be’ etc, there is every likelihood that the 101/2 would have been withdrawn this coming weekend, with no plan to reinstate it. Well done to all for saving the service – for the time being.
🚌’the clock is ticking’. The reprieve to the service is only until 31st March 2023. Better than no service but still not a lot of time. Collective efforts to save and improve the service, long-term, needs to happen – now.
🚌Councillors from the two councils present, SBC and South Lanarkshire, described what is happening within their respective local authorities.
🚌SBC – a series of community engagement/consultation events are being planned some relating to public transport across the Borders, some specifically to do with the long term future of the 101/2.
Standing Up for Our Buses Progress Report 11th August 2022

🚌SBC – West Linton’s councillors are meeting with relevant council officials next Tuesday (16th Aug) to keep the 101/2 firmly on the agenda. Viv Thomson and Drummond Begg taking forward 2 specific actions from the ‘Stand up for our buses’ meeting. Viv will emphasise the need for joined up thinking and working between the 5 local authorities along the route. For example, will there be a ‘whole route’ consultation rather than the 5 authorities all working in isolation? If ‘whole route’, who’s auspices will it be gone under? Drummond – passenger use data. Drummond will be insisting that we have access to the most up to date West Linton passenger numbers. Although there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that passenger numbers have increased over the last month, current, regular and accurate data will help us track and understand exactly what the trends and patterns are.

🚌 SBC – Gordon Grant, Principal Planning Officer, will be attending the Tweeddale Area Partnership on 23rd August where he’ll give an overview on the current state of play with our local bus services. It will also be an opportunity for him to gather more feedback on what challenges people in and around West Linton face when it comes to using public transport and what could be done differently to encourage greater bus use, including the 101/2. Any of us can join this online meeting- well worth doing so.
🚌SBC – Gordon Grant has also committed to coming to West Linton in the very near future to hear and learn directly from local people and organisations about our bus services and how usage could be improved. As soon as date and venue is confirmed, I’ll let you know. 🚌’Stand up for our buses’ is requesting a meeting with the CEOs and relevant senior managers from the 5 local authorities along the route, early September, to make sure ‘our issues are their issues’, and again to insist on a collaborative and connected way forward that has the voices, experiences and opinions of local people people right at the centre of the process moving forward. This meeting should also determine how best to bring national government into the equation if need be.
🚌the ’Stand up for our buses’ group is rolling up their sleeves and anticipating that there will be a lot of lobbying, consulting, campaigning and coordinating to be done over the next while. The more the merrier – if you’d like to get involved please just ask.
🚌and last, but certainly not least. IF WE DON’T USE IT…… WE LOSE IT’. The mantra still applies. Hopefully the data that we’re looking for will show that all the recent and successful campaigning activity wasn’t just a flash in the pan and passenger numbers are beginning to increase. That’s what’s needed. To give us best chance of saving and improving the service, we need to be able to demonstrate real and sustained increase in passenger numbers – now. We can all play our part. If as many of us as possible choose to use the bus, a bit more frequently (even occasionally is better than never), it will make a huge difference and really strengthen our case.