As a non-driver, I know how valuable a service our local buses provide, especially out here in the Fens. Like many other residents, I rely on them to go shopping, to the hospital, to leisure events (even though they stop too early in the evenings and I have to get a cab back - not cheap!) and for all the other aspects of life that we take for granted.
I was on a bus yesterday to get to March and back for a meeting. I'll need a bus to get to my Body Balance class in Ely later this week, a meeting on Thursday evening, and next week for my dental check-up and physiotherapy appointment. Without the buses, I'd be marooned here in our village; and I'm reasonably young (well, 50+ if the truth be told, but not yet drawing my pension) and healthy, and have my family here at home. I dread to imagine what life would be like if I were 70+ or 80+ with no car and no family, and no bus service either.
I'd always assumed that being able to get from place to place was a fairly fundamental part of life, and that as not everyone was able to drive a car - whether, like me, because they've never passed their test, or through ill health, lack of financial resources, or whatever other reason - ensuring provision of public transport was a basic duty of the powers that be.
Apparently I'm wrong. Fenland's lovable blogger Cllr Steve Tierney has gone on the record at the Cambs Times saying that buses are 'a luxury we can no longer afford'. I somehow doubt that Cambridgeshire's residents see them in the same light.
As part of drawing up its budget for the forthcoming year, Cambridgeshire County Council consulted a number of residents about their priorities. Not surprisingly, bus services came out in the top three. And yet, despite the obvious public support for ensuring people can get out and about, the Conservative-controlled county council is about to axe all support for all bus services across the county over the course of the next four years. Any route that can't turn a profit - and that's most of them out here in the countryside - will go to the wall.
Do you agree with Mr Tierney that it's a 'luxury' for people to be able to get out and about if they haven't got a car? Or, as I suspect, do you think public transport is a little more important than that?
- ▼ 2011 (34)