Letters, March 8

I AM sorry to read about Kirsty Woodward’s poor experience when using the 91 bus service (Opinion, P18, March 1).

Despite an overall improvement in punctuality following timetable changes last year, I recognise that our service performance can still be inconsistent on this route.

I can assure Ms Woodward and other 91 customers that these concerns are taken seriously and we are continually working hard to deliver the best service for our customers across Doncaster and South Yorkshire.

From the original concerns raised by Ms Woodward we have been looking carefully at the early morning service punctuality and I am pleased to confirm that we will be introducing a revised timetable at the next opportunity at the end of April.

Time and again our customers tell us the importance of service punctuality and this is a key focus for me and my team at First. This is why we welcome comments from our customers to help us improve the service. This demonstrates the importance of providing consistent bus journey times for our customers and that is why we are equally working hard with our transport partners to help deliver and protect bus priority measures.

Building on the recent service improvements in Doncaster by First, I am sure we can continue improving public transport together.

Dave Alexander, First UK Bus, Regional Managing Director, (North)

We agree about poor service

WE sympathise with Kirsty Woodward and her complaint, in this week’s issue of Free Press (Opinion P18) regarding the negative attitude by First Group since October 2011, over the ongoing poor service levels on the bus route 91 Finningley/Doncaster ,

Having read the article, we would strongly suggest that this complaint is pursued with all vigour to a much higher level within these organisations, possibly engaging her local parish council in Branton to attain support, to the point of ensuring this is elevated to the following levels for a proper reply.

Communicating directly with managing director, First Group, managing director, SYPTE together with ensuring that VOSA are kept fully up to speed with all complaints of non-compliance, as it is they who rubber stamp and authorise all bus timetables changes which are issued by the First Group .

As a ‘no response’ is not an option, we in Finningley wish to hear, as we will suffer.

It is also suprising how First group appear to have and continue to have a monoply on bus services in and around the Doncaster area, whilst they continually are in default and fail to provide proper service levels for us all.

Peter & Mary Weller, Gatesbridge Park, Finningley

First supports bus lanes.

FIRST in Doncaster is a massive supporter of the bus lanes in the town, which gives our vehicles priority measures over other modes of transport and, in turn, help to speed up bus journey times to benefit the 260,000 passengers who use our buses in Doncaster each week.

We were therefore extremely surprised to read the article to suggest that our buses would not be using these lanes, which from the point of view of our business, would be counter productive.

The article seemed to be based on the fact that an ad hoc survey found 2 out of 20 buses were seen not to be in the lanes.

This actually means that 18 buses were using the bus lanes correctly, and only two vehicles were not in them for a small part of their overall journey. This, depending on where the person carrying out the survey was stood, could have been for a number of reasons, including roadworks, parked cars, safety issues etc.

For example, the bus lane between the junction of Earlesmere Avenue and St. John’s Road on Balby Road is often affected by people opening their car doors, after parking outside the row of retail outlets. Also, at the end of the bus lane, the junction with St. John’s Road, which is supposed to be one way, there has been occasions when cars have exited against the flow causing problems for buses.

We are commencing discussions with the Doncaster Council and SYPTE to rectify these matters.

We work closely with our partners at SYPTE and Doncaster Council to ensure the quality of bus travel meets the highest standards in terms of punctuality, reliability and safety.

We are looking forward to Phase two of the A630 QBC making further improvements to the number and quality of bus lanes in the area.

Peter Mair, Operations Manager for First in Doncaster

Duke Street bus chaos

WHEN is someone in authority going to sort out the ridiculous situation of buses from all sides of town converging on Duke Street so that the bus drivers can change over?

The buses have to compete for space with taxis heading for their town centre ranks and private motorists using the car parks under the Colonnades, and above the Frenchgate Centre which is reached via West Laith Gate.

This quickly causes a deadlock and the traffic backs up blocking the Trafford Way roundabout and the junction of Silver Street and High Street/Hall Gate.

This evening (Friday 3.30pm) it took my No 55 bus 40 minutes to travel from the bus stop in Cleveland Street to the top of Hall Gate. I don’t expect the bus drivers to waste their well deserved breaks walking between Duke Street and a changeover in the Interchange but wouldn’t it be better to give them say ten minutes travelling time and cut out the need for all the buses converging unnecessarily on such a restricted area?

Surely it would make for a smoother running service.

T Baker, Manse Close, Cantley

Drivers need some training

WHAT is the problem with Mainline bus drivers?

On Friday a large crowd of people, including myself, waited nearly an hour on Cleveland Street for a bus.

There were several disabled people, mums with pushcairs and children, people with heavy shopping bags, equally the same on Hall Gate.

Surely someone from Mainline could have come around to inform us what had happened?

Eventually a bus did arrive, with a somewhat curt driver, who in no uncertain terms stated he would only go to Edenthorpe - no reassurance that there would be other buses coming along later.

Many of the drivers treat the passengers with contempt as if they resent having to do their job. I have to say that this generally applies to male drivers.

The 58 service has recently been re-directed up Wood Street and down Chequer Road, where there is the clinic, which provides the hearing aid service, and the Doncaster Museum. I phoned Mainline to enquire if the 58 would now stop in Chequer Road as this would be very convenient for visitors to the museum and clinic and I was told in no uncertain terms “no it will not, it will go straight onto Carr House Road”.

This would have been of great benefit also to the Civic Theatre.

I just wonder who plans these routes and who trains the drivers? I do realise that at times the drivers do get abuse, but may be their attitudes do not help this situation.

Margaret Herbert, non driver - has to rely on the bus service, Edenthorpe

We need cheap bus fares

AS the price of fuel and the Government tax thereon is ever-increasing and the cost of private car insurance is also jumping sky high (mainly because of fraudulent claims), the public would certainly consider using a properly and well run public transport service instead of using their own cars.

A very good businessman will prefer to sell a large amount of items for less profit, than just a few items for a bigger profit.

I wish that our First management would have been wise enough to see it this way.

If the bus fares would be cheaper, thousands of additional people would leave their cars at home and would use the bus. This would be ideal for the people as well as for the bus operator. However the bus operator does not seem to see it this way, the fares are being increased to such an extent, that it is still cheaper to use one’s own car and makes the use of the bus service even less popular.

In Doncaster it is by far easier to win the National Lottery, than being able to board a bus on time.

Our bus operator is wasting a large amount of time and money, by preparing timetables, printing them and then placing them at every bus stop. Instead of wasting money for this purpose, they should use this money to reduce the fares and just put a notice at each bus stop saying “you should consider yourself extremely lucky, to be able to get onto a bus” which is a fact!

The lack of punctuality is causing great frustration and is another reason why less and less people are using the bus service; they are sick and tired of waiting and waiting for a bus that never comes on time, and makes them arrive at their destination too late.

Mr A Hirsch, Hartland Crescent, Edenthorpe

It’s the sad end of an era

HOW sad to see that yet another of Doncaster’s old established shops is to disappear.

Since the early 60s I have never failed to look at the array of guitars in Smedley’s window each time I’ve walked along Printing Office Street.

Over the years I have bought at least four guitars from them and a number of music books and other bits and pieces.

I will miss the moment or two that I pause to press my nose against that window, but I wish Mr and Mrs Smedley all the best for their retirement.

Mick Sleight, Montague Street, Doncaster

We need this sort of plan

LABOUR Group Leader Coun Sandra Holland does well to clearly set out Labour’s six point plan to defend jobs and services, especially for the most vulnerable in Doncaster.

It’s this sort of pro-active forward thinking that is needed at the council at the moment.

This six point plan, along with the national Labour Party’s five point plan for growth, show us that the Left are fighting back.

Davies and Cameron are trying to destroy our communities, it’s up to Coun Holland to continue leading from the front to fight off these savage cut backs.

We are about to enter the most significant period of the vulnerable being hammered by Cameron - we need an organised front of people to fight off the idealogical vision of Cameron and Davies.

I think Coun Holland and her team can give these two right wing nasties a run for their money.

P J Cawkwell, West Street, Conisbrough