Friday, 13 March 2009

Moaning about buses again

After my last meeting with the MD I wrote to him to follow up on an issue Dawn Primarolo and I had discussed with him (and got, we thought, a reasonably encouraging response), about introduced a reduced fare pilot scheme on one or two key routes, to see if it would encourage more people to use the buses. Had a frankly useless response today, which was basically along the lines 'you might think fares have gone up but actually they haven't in absolutely every case and not by as much as you think'. And no mention of the pilot schemes.

You may recall that two of First's favourite excuses for fare increases and lack of reliability were (a) the price of fuel and (b) difficulty in recruiting drivers. We all know what's happened to fuel prices lately, and I'm reliably informed that as unemployment bites, they're now inundated with applications from would-be drivers.

What do we want? A Quality Contract! When do we want it? Now!


The Grim Reaper said...

Nice little job for you when you get kicked out of Parliament next year, eh? ;-)

Kerry said...

I don't think I could reach the pedals.

DaveA said...

"Had a frankly useless response today, which was basically along the lines 'you might think fares have gone up but actually they haven't in absolutely every case and not by as much as you think'"

Hmmm sounds familiar to me, MP to constituent? Not answering the question, answering the question you wanted to ask me?

Perhaps you can get in touch with the Foreign Office and get a straight and helpful answer out of them.

At the G20 Summit at the Excel 2/4/09 is there a smoking room inside, it would be illegal in any other situation? That is there is more than 50% coverage.

Yes or no?

Kerry said...

Completely irrelevant Dave, especially seeing as you're not my constituent.

F2C's cheap attempt to grab publicity by - how shall I put it? making things up? - has already been well and truly rubbished in the press. Echoes of the Strangers Bar video, methinks. Obviously done on the basis that at least some people will end up hearing the lies and not reading the rebuttal. Shame on you.

Jon Rogers said...

Hi Kerry

Very frustrating.

I would be interested in pursuing your agenda with First Bus and others. Would you be able to brief me on what you have achieved so far?

Should I contact your PA or will your team contact mine? Ruth is on 0117 922 2879.

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

The Sustainable Development and Transport Scrutiny Commission, which I now chair, is having a witness session on public transport on 30 April.

We have invited First but I understand that there is some concern that they will not turn up. I will keep you updated.

bevanite said...

What do we want? Nationalisation! When do we want it? Now...

Bail out the buses. Please?!

Kerry said...

Hi Jon. I could point out that when your party were last in control of the council you showed remarkable reluctance to even raise this issue with First, following the successive trial of a reduced fare scheme out in Wansdyke, but glad you're coming on board now, if you'll excuse the pun. Happy to copy both you and Terry in on the response from First; in fact, I might stick it on my website.

Perhaps in the spirit of trying to find a collective solution to this, all three of us - by which I mean Terry too - could have a joint discussion?

Jon Rogers said...

Happy to join you, Terry, Mark Bradshaw or even Conservative Barbara Lewis and Green Party Charlie Bolton to discuss how we can take this agenda forward.

As Mark and I have discussed before and since the change in administration, there are more policies that unite all four political parties than divide us.


Chris Davis said...

Dear Ms. McCarthy,

You replied to DaveA as follows:

Completely irrelevant Dave, especially seeing as you're not my constituent.

As one of your constituents, I would like the answer to the same question that he asked. To wit:

At the G20 Summit at the Excel in early April will there be a smoking room inside that would be illegal in any other situation? That is to say, with more than 50% coverage.

You may either reply to me on this forum, or at my email address, or conversely you may post your reply to me at 25, Somerset Road, Bristol BS4 2HT.

Best Regards,

Christopher Davis

Kerry said...

At which point I refer readers to yesterday's Guardian diary:

"Labour 'double standards' as smoking ban is lifted for G20 world leaders," thundered yesterday's Daily Mail. Cue outrage. Not unexpected. Oh, and not true. The smoke trails show there was an item in the Sun suggesting smoking rooms at the summit venue, which was picked up and enhanced by the pressure group Freedom2Choose and fed, with all its flaws, to the Mail. "Just because it doesn't make any sense doesn't mean the government won't do it," Freedom2Choose told us, on being asked for substantiation. Behold, a house on sand.

And, look, this issue has nothing to do with buses, and Dave A was trying to make a tenuous link. We can't have every issue hijacked by F2C. (And living where you do, I would have thought that First Bus' performance was of some interest to you?) I will write to you but not taking any follow up comments on smoking on this post.

Chris Davis said...

Thank you.

I look forward to your letter.

Anonymous said...

You should publish the letter ASAP. You might get the Post aboard the brand new rainbow coalition bus as well.

cornyborny said...

bevanite: bail out the buses? I understand that First Great Western are already subsidised by £9m pa in Bristol alone.

I'll glissade past the call for nationalisation.

Genuine competition is the only way to improve public transport. Anything else is just tinkering round the edges. The situation we have today, with quasi-monopolies providing poor value and service, pursuing profit while being propped up by the taxpayer, is the worst of all worlds. First would soon shape up if their passenger share was eaten into by Virgin Bus.

Failing that, you kick First in the proverbials as hard as you can, Kerry.

Bluebaldee said...

Quite honestly Kerry, I think that all this periodic hand-wringing that you and Dawn indulge in over Bristol's public transport is just to be seen to be doing something.

Labour have had 12 years to sort out the public transport situation in one of Britain's largest and most important cites - and yet nothing has been done. Sure, there's been lots of talking, but no action.

Collectively, Bristol's politicians from across the entire spectrum have failed miserably to improve transport in our city. Time and again it's mentioned as one of the big issues for Bristolians, yet absolutely nothing is done by anyone in power, locally or nationally.

As paid politicians I really think that you should all be ashamed of this abject failure.

If Labour can't sort out the buses and trains in Bristol what exactly can you do?