Berkeley and Dursley to Bristol service under threat
Updated 11:52am Thursday 19th June 2014 in News By Daniel Chipperfield, senior reporter covering Dursley, Cam, Wotton-under-Edge, Sharpness, Slimbridge, Berkeley, Coaley, Uley, North Nibley, Stinchcombe and Cambridge
COMMUTERS are pleading with the local authority to not axe an essential bus service from Dursley and Berkeley to Bristol.
The route 224, which takes people to their work or studies every weekday faces the chop in August amid council cut backs.
A new contract with First Bus was agreed by Gloucestershire County Council after Thornbury-based Mike travel could not continue running the service.
But this will only last until August 29, with no guarantees that it will be renewed.
And with a similar service the 626 now no longer going as far as Dursley after it was cut from the route in May, commuters are concerned about how they will continue making a living.
Heather Owens, a civil servant from Berkeley, said for the majority of passengers it was “vital”.
“We just want to be able to get to work, earn a living and come home again. We do not need the added stress of the anxiety and struggle of trying to maintain a service to get us there,” she said.
“Our bus may not be full up every day, but it is one of the most consistently used services.”
Ms Owens added that a group of dedicated commuters had done their best to keep the route going last time it faced the axe in April 2012 by advertising and putting up timetables in Dursley and Cam station and in Berkeley, something which she believed the council and bus service should have been doing.
In addition she said the passengers agreed to almost doubling their ticket price and made suggestions such as smaller buses to reduce costs.
“For passengers to go to these lengths to keep a service running must surely show how valuable it is,” she said.
Fellow passenger and Dursley resident from Silver Street Heidi Westerlage, 55, works at Berkeley Power Station and said the commuters deserved some loyalty for their efforts, adding the service was “well-used”.
“It will be very very awkward because the other bus runs at six in the morning and would mean I am away from home for 13 hours for a 15 minute trip,” she said.
“It’s so important for the people of Berkeley because the services have been cut so much already.”
Dursley Town Council (DTC) recently voted to protest the service reduction to the town, which already suffers from congested roads.
DTC clerk Helen Bojaniwska said: “The point is they are lots of people from around here who work in Bristol and the sustainable way to get there is by bus and by train.
“We all know there are issues with the trains so they will rely on their cars, which is not sustainable.
“We need to be encouraging people out of their cars and this does not help.”
GCC cabinet member for public transport, Cllr Will Windsor Clive, said they wanted to see how they could support services in the long term, with a consultation planned in the coming months.
“We are working hard to help people in the Dursley area and that’s why we’ve put an extra £48,000 into supporting the 224 bus service,” he said.
A spokeswoman for First West confirmed they were in discussion with the county council about the provision of services to and from Dursley.
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