Buses and trains don’t connect
PUBLISHED: 10:34 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:39 26 October 2009
Sir – You report that people are put off using local buses because of the high fares. However, that is far from the only problem with the bus service. The timetables and the provision of information are extremely poor. Particular problems include lack of
Sir - You report that people are put off using local buses because of the high fares. However, that is far from the only problem with the bus service. The timetables and the provision of information are extremely poor. Particular problems include lack of co-ordination with trains, the sparse evening service and unreliability.
For example, in the morning peak there is a fast train from Welwyn Garden City to King's Cross every half hour, closely followed by a stopping train to Moorgate. The half hourly bus from Haldens, service 403, arrives at the bus station immediately after these trains have departed. Going home is no better, for the 403 does not run in the evening. The latest departure from King's Cross that gives a reliable connection into the last bus is as early as 17:52. This is far too early for many commuters.
There is an evening service on route 301 to Knightsfield and Welwyn village, but it might as well not be there from the point of view of train passengers. Departures are minutes before the King's Cross train arrives at Welwyn Garden City, or so soon after that it is impossible to get from the platform to the bus stop in time.
Even if you do get to the bus stop before the bus is supposed to depart, there is no guarantee that you may not be there for a very long time. Lack of supervision means that buses sometimes depart early, but there is no way of knowing if a missing bus will arrive in two minutes, twenty minutes or not at all. The departure indicators at the bus station assume that everything is running to schedule and provide no "real time" information.
Arriva gives the impression that it is quite satisfied with its existing customer base, largely made up of school pupils, the elderly and others unlikely to have access to a car. Nothing is done to make the bus attractive to new users, especially motorists. I cannot recall any promotion of the service, for example by door to door delivery of timetables or advertising in your pages. The County Council's Passenger Transport Unit is ineffective, because it has no control over the commercial operations of private sector companies, and seems to have nothing better to do with its money than to replace the bus stops with ones to a different design.
It is unrealistic to expect a shire county to subsidise buses to the extent that this is done in London, especially when councils have little or no control over the timetable. However, I have waited at London bus stops which have a better service in the small hours of the morning than we have during the busiest times of the day. Can no improvements be made?