Monday, 23 November 2020

Villages have bus service reduced to once an hour

BUS services linking Sonning Common and Peppard to Reading will be cut.

The pink 25 service, which is run by Reading Buses, is reducing the number of times it runs to the villages during the day, from September 3.

It currently runs from Reading Station to the Unicorn pub in Peppard and stops at 11 different places in the villages before travelling into town via Emmer Green.

The service is the only public transport which links the villages with Reading. There are no other direct bus services.

Daytime services between 10am and 4.30pm, which currently run every 30 minutes, will run every hour.

On Saturdays it will run once an hour instead of every 30 minutes. It will only run every two hours on Sundays compared with every hour currently.

Morning and evening weekday commuter journeys, and school time peak services, will remain two per hour. A double-decker will also run on the busiest services.

Councillor Carole Lewis, who chairs Sonning Common Parish Council, has written to Reading Buses expressing its concerns about the planned cuts.

Councillor Lewis said: “This is a complete surprise as there has been no consultation with residents. Sonning Common is a large village that is also a hub for residents in surrounding settlements.

“Many residents rely on the number 25 bus which services the whole village and much of Rotherfield Peppard as well and is viewed by its users as an excellent service.

“Many elderly residents use the service as it gives them the chance to travel out of the village for shopping and to meet up with friends.”

Cllr Lewis said the cuts would create more car journeys and add to air pollution in Reading. She said: “People who travel into Reading on the early buses may well want to return in the middle of the day and vice versa but a less frequent service will be a real inconvenience.

“If services are reduced in rural areas this will surely encourage more car journeys and exacerbate the existing congestion and air pollution problems.”

The matter was also discussed by the parish council at a full council meeting last week.

Councillor Barrie Greenwood said it would have a negative effect for residents.

“We need to make a representation on behalf of our residents,” he said. “Elderly residents like myself use the buses regularly and will be unhappy about there being only one service per hour. There should be a protest made.”

Councillor Stan Rust said it would have a negative impact on those who travel into the countryside from Reading, especially at weekends.

He said: “The village is popular with walkers. With the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we act as the Reading green belt. People come out to walk in the countryside, so it’s not just Sonning Common residents who will be negatively affected.”

Councillor Jeni Wood, chairwoman of Peppard Parish Council, said many people needed the bus to get to the Royal Berkshire Hospital or to use the bank.

She said: “It will affect our residents considerably because a lot of people don’t drive anymore. Although the buses are not full when they leave Peppard, plenty of people get on to use them and it’s busy. We really rely on those buses.”

The change is part of a raft of changes by Reading Buses to services in Caversham and Emmer Green.

Martijn Gilbert, the company’s chief executive officer, said they faced a “challenging financial position”, adding: “Our September changes are designed to stablilise our network against increased congestion, reflect demand and provide more reliable buses.”

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