Friday, 15 December 2017

Changes to bus services confirmed

BUS routes in Caversham are to undergo a shake-up to save money.

Reading Buses will cover the same number of stops with two fewer vehicles.

The changes will be implemented from February and include “growth initiatives” to address underperformance on some current routes.

The operator, which is owned by Reading Borough Council, was proposing to scrap the 24 service and divert the 22 and 25 routes to cover most of its stops.

It backed down after residents protested about the impact on the elderly and children in the area.

The changes are based on feedback from a public consultation on the original proposals.

The 22 route will now be extended to link Caversham centre to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. It will continue on its existing route every half hour during commuting times but reduce to hourly services in off-peak times and on Saturdays.

The Sunday service will be scrapped but Reading Buses tickets will be accepted on the Thames Travel X39/40 which stops at Caversham Bridge, St Peter's Hill, Woodcote Road and Upper Woodcote Road as far as Shepherds Lane.

The 23 and 24 services, to Caversham Park and Emmer Green, will be combined. These will run in clockwise and anti-clockwise loops to provide better access to schools and GP surgeries.

This will be mainly every 20 minutes and serve all bus stops through to central Reading.

The 25 service will continue unchanged in both frequency and route, including using Reading Bridge and similarly providing a fast link to the northern interchange at Reading station.

The 27 and 29 routes will be revised from Lower Caversham to provide two-way link to and from Caversham centre. This is instead of traveling in a loop via central Reading.

Reading Buses has found Caversham Heights remains the loss-making area for the company. It has failed to grow use in the area due to high car ownership and low density of population.

Martijn Gilbert, chief executive of Reading Buses, said: “While it is impossible to accommodate every piece of feedback received, the outcome of this consultation represents a sizeable reduction in the level of savings originally anticipated.

“In effect, the company is now only perusing half of its originally planned savings and is instead seeking to grow bus use where the company is able to efficiently deliver a number of improvements.”

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