Essex Councillor Targets Unreliable Buses

Ray Gooding

A BUS franchising scheme has been proposed for certain areas in Essex, which could lead to major improvements.

Residents in rural and urban areas of Essex are often left with unreliable bus services. Coun Ray Gooding, the Cabinet Member for Education at Essex, has noticed issues with bus services and has been looking at providing a bus franchising scheme for particular areas, under the new Bus Services Act 2017.

With roughly £60 million being spent by the council on bus services within Essex, £9 million of this supports buses in rural areas. Coun Gooding who represents Stansted, said: ‘Some companies offer outstanding services, whereas some have big problems through trying to run too cheaply.’

The franchising scheme was received by Parliament in April and if it is agreed, Essex could determine routes to a certain extent, ensuring rural areas have regular transport.

A new scheme could however place constraints and restrictions on the council’s budget, potentially leading to bus fares rising in some areas. Coun Gooding said: ‘People are concerned with their own expenditure and tend to look at what they will get out of it themselves.

‘Buses can be pretty grotty and old, so this could help provide newer buses that are more fit for purpose.’

Chloe Mckendrick struggles regularly with unreliable buses

Chloe Mckendrick, an 18-year-old student, uses buses to travel to Harlow College daily from her home in Waltham Abbey. With Chloe’s bus running only once an hour, delays are a problem. She said: ‘They need to rearrange the bus timetable, but the companies don’t seem to listen to the public.’

A map showing the bus stops in Harlow

With lack of buses and delays being a major issue, the planned franchise could solve many people’s transport requirements.

Photo of Ray Gooding supplied by Essex County Council press office.

Photo of Chloe Mckendrick taken by Leah Bloxham.

Infographic visual of the bus map: www.essexbus.info

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Leah Bloxham

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