Residents angry at plans to axe the Peacemarsh and Wyke sections of the X2 bus route have set up a group aimed at finding a replacement service.
The Bus4us volunteer group is to carry out a petition and also a questionnaire to see what kind of service residents in these areas of Gillingham, want and need.
The move comes after the announcement that South West Coaches will be axing the Peacemarsh and Wyke sections of the X2 route, claiming it is poorly used and not profitable.
Bus4us organiser and Wyke resident Sharon Butler and other local people, met with Dorset councillors Belinda Ridout and Val Pothecary and Gillingham mayor Barry Von Clemens to discuss their options last week.
‘They understood what a vital service this was, for the most elderly and vulnerable people in our community and the impact that not having a bus service, would have on them,’ Sharon told Gillingham News.
‘We discussed what other options, there could be to provide a bus service for these areas and agreed that we first needed to find out what type of service would best meet the needs of the people who would use the service.
‘As a result of what was discussed , we have now formed a team of local residents, with the aim of trying to make sure that Wyke, Peacemarsh and other outlying areas of Gillingham have a bus service which is fit for purpose.’
Sharon Butler said their next step was to put their questionnaire in accessible places in Gillingham, where interested residents can complete it and sign the petition.
‘We will also be going door to door, in the areas in Wyke and Peacemarsh, where most bus users live, with our questionnaire and petition, so that it reaches as many people as possible and those without the internet,’ she said.
‘We have produced a poster, which we are going to put in the library, GP surgeries, chemists, bus stops and other areas of town.’
Sharon said that she got involved in the campaign after meeting two elderly local residents, who were ‘very upset and distraught’ after hearing that South West Coaches were cutting the Wyke and Peacemarsh service.
‘Hearing what a devastating affect that loosing a bus service would have on their social and mental health I felt that I had to try to do something,’ she said.
Mayor Barry Von Clemens said of the meeting: ‘I made the suggestion that with such a massive amount of community backing this was the perfect time to look into the possibility of a community lead solution for example a community bus service or talking with other bus providers to see if we could provide a Gillingham service.
‘This is a great group of residents who rather than sitting back and waiting for someone else to find the solution are stepping forward and putting forward possible solutions to the problem. The community is taking responsibility – it’s fabulous to see.’
He added: ‘It was a very positive and productive meeting with us coming away with a good action plan and a number of good alternative solutions that hopefully will develop into a service that will cover the town. Although it may be limited, it will mean Gillingham residents will have access to some form of public transport.’
In a statement a spokesperson for Dorset Council, who are responsible for local bus transport, said: ‘We will continue to subsidise the X2 service using money from the new development at East Shaftesbury as part of the Section 106 agreement. The terms state that the money is used to provide a rapid service between the new development, Shaftesbury Town Centre and Gillingham railway station.
‘We are unable to fund the section around Wyke and Peacemarsh because it does not satisfy the conditions. The original decision to run the service to this part of the town was made commercially by South West Coaches. Gillingham has a good community transport network (including a community car scheme ) that the residents of Wyke and Peacemarsh can access.
‘We will be working with local councillors to explore how the gap in provision can be filled using community transport alternatives.’
Bus4Us QUESTIONNAIRE Please tick or circle
Are you Male / Female / prefer not to say
Are you aged: under 20 under 30 31 – 45 46 – 60 61 – 75 76 +
Are you: able bodied / disabled
Question 1. How often do you use the buses?
- Daily (b) most days (c) 2 or 3 times per week (d) occasionally (e) rarely
Question 2. What time of day do you usually travel?
Out: Before 9am, 09.00 – 10.00, 10.00 – 11.00, 11.00 – 12.00, afternoon
Home: 10.00 – 11.00, 11.00 – 12.00, 12.00 – 13.00, 13.00 – 14.00, 14.00 –
15.00, 15.00 – 16.00, 16.00 – 17.00, 17.00 – 18.00, after 18.00hrs
Question 2. Where do you usually travel?
- to Gillingham (b) to Shaftesbury (c) to Mere (d) to Wincanton (e) to Salisbury
Question 3. What is normally the purpose of your journey? (circle all that apply)
- Work (b) Shopping (c) Doctors (d) Hospital (e) Visiting friends (f) Visiting family
- just getting out of the house (h) other
Question 4. Which area of Gillingham do you travel from?
- Peacemarsh (b) Lodbourne (c) Cold Harbour (d) Wyke (e) Town Centre (f) Ham
Question 5. If a commercial company could be found to continue offering local pick-ups and drop-offs would you be prepared to pay a small amount per journey, even if you have a Bus Pass – say?
- 75 pence per journey (b) £1 per journey (c) £1.50 per journey
(d) No, I would not wish/could not afford to pay
(please give any additional information)
+++++Completed questionnaires can be sent to GillinghamBus4us@gmail.com or phone 07766733027 for Bus4us to collect or with any questions++++++
The Bus4us statement: