Column: Doncaster Bus Intelligence report is not smart

Long-suffering bus passengers in Doncaster will not be surprised to find that the newly published Bus Intelligence report contains few obvious signs of intelligence.

Thursday, 17th March 2016, 2:00 pm
Buses pictured travelling along Trafford Way. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Buses MC 11

Longer bus journeys from outlying areas, scant regard for disabled and elderly travellers and baffling route changes are among the “celebrated” results of a consultation in which only 1,200 residents apparently took part. It seems strange that so few people saw fit to have their say about something affecting their everyday life, but then bogus consultation is sadly something we have become accustomed to and it is notoriously difficult to find anyone who has ever been consulted on any subject.

With fanfares and major celebratory comments from the usual suspects, the Free Press reports “a brave new world and a new era for bus travel in Doncaster.”

Thinking that some major innovative changes were afoot and that some bright spark had solved the problems of local bus travel, it was disappointing to read the usual jargon-packed drivel which is regularly spewed out by public bodies.

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The news that Sheffield gets more public money than Doncaster to pay for transport because it has something called a Bus Partnership is disgraceful. This approach is typical of bodies like the SYPTE with its expensive chief executive and huge bureaucracy. Money should be allocated to local authorities according to their population, road mileage and the level of social disadvantage. None of this requires another quango like the one being proposed for Doncaster. A better idea would be to use the SYPTE running costs to improve Doncaster’s public transport.

Doncaster bus services clearly need a revamp – they are expensive, unreliable and often filled with yobs who are permitted to make journeys thoroughly unpleasant for decent passengers. It is now cheaper for two or more people to travel by taxi, it is cheaper and faster to catch a train and, in the town itself, it is quicker to cycle and sometimes to walk.

There are countless reports of buses failing to turn up while some areas have a surfeit of double deckers often carrying few passengers.

And the car, which remains the favoured choice of transport for over 70 per cent of residents, continues to be treated with disdain.

The bus stops deliberately placed next to bollards, the bus lanes with no buses in them and the ridiculous waste of over £17m on two lamentable Park and Ride schemes all show a total ignorance of the travel needs of the town.

Perhaps some well-paid SYPTE ‘expert’ route planners and local councillors could travel by bus to see if they like having their working days extended by the various mystery tours through the side streets of Doncaster.