Sunday, 18 March 2018

Every passenger counts, says not-for-profit bus operator as he seeks to expand

RESIDENTS of Goring have been urged to use the bus more to ensure the village’s services survive.

Mike Ward, whose non-profit firm Going Forward took over the 134 route from Goring and South Stoke to Wallingford in December, says his venture needs as many passengers as possible to keep going and ideally expand.

The company has already extended its existing route, which used to terminate at Goring station, to include High Street and Goring bridge and has introduced a 133 service on Fridays which stops at Streatley and Moulsford.

It now hopes to launch another bus to replace Thames Travel’s 143 service from Whitchurch Hill to Reading. This is partly funded by Goring Heath and Whitchurch parish councils but the money is set to run out soon, at which point the service will go only as far as Pangbourne.

Mr Ward has bought a third vehicle and is seeking volunteer drivers. It is hoped that the new route would go from Goring to Whitchurch via Pangbourne then on to Whitchurch Hill, Crays Pond, Caversham and the town centre and Tesco superstore in Reading.

There are also plans to run the 133 on more days of the week and extend the route to Shillingford, Dorchester and Berinsfield.

A bench may also be provided for passengers waiting outside Goring station. Mr Ward, of Elvendon Road, Goring, said there had been an increase in passenger numbers since his takeover but this needed to continue. On average, the 134 now serves 100 people a day as opposed to 78 four months ago.

“Not everyone has access to a car and a significant number of people in the Goring area are reliant on the 134 bus service,” said Mr Ward.

“It’s the easiest way for them to get to the station, shops, post office, banks and Wallingford hospital, but the link will only survive if it is also used by others who make journeys on this route switching from car to bus.

“By doing this, you can help safeguard the service for those who are dependent on it and don’t have an alternative. And you never know — one day, you too might be grateful for it.

“It’s also the environmentally friendly option. If someone making a car journey switches to the bus it cuts down on harmful emissions and it saves all the hassle and expense of trying to find a parking space. The continued operation of the service depends entirely on the number of people using it, both farepayers and pass users. In this respect, every journey counts.”

The 134 was run commercially until 2012, when Go Ride took it over on a not-for-profit basis. The company has since pulled out of Oxfordshire.

Anyone interested in volunteering as a driver should call Mr Ward on 07484 605888 or email littleblue

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