* 12 January 2023 - Master Document / v1.4 (draft)
* 20 December 2022 - review of year, looking forward to 2023
* 2 October 2022 - ClimateFest
* 17 September 2022 - Electric Bus Demo - Melksham
* September 2022 was "Catch the Bus" month.
* 4 April 2022 - BSIP - no award to Wiltshire
* 24 Feb 2022 - draft Wiltshire Enhanced Partnership and comment
* Jan 2022 - short term timetable changes
* 15 Dec 2021 - Slides for Cross-border meeting
* 29 Oct 2021 - 'Final' Bus Service Improvement Plan
* 11 Oct 2021 - BSIP as submitted and supporting documents
* 7 Sep 2021 - Draft BSIP, current year, Option 24/7 master organisation
* See http://old.option247.uk for the old (2016) campaign site
What are the Council's Options? Support page
There is a difficult choice for Wiltshire Council to make over coming months as it decides what to do about the supported bus network.
At present, some £5.1 million per annum is being paid to bus companies to run services at times or to places that no bus company has chosen to serve, but which the council feels is a necessary service. However, The Council has a requirement to save money, and these services tend to get more expensive to provide every year - so should they cut them? Should they re-organise them? Should they take a wider look and consider the whole (commercials and subsidised) bus network, as is to be made much easier in the Bus Services Bill?
There is no easy answer here. If you help one group (such as the bus users by providing the same level of service you are at present), you alienate others (such as council tax payers who do not use the bus) by taxing them more to pay for the service.
We have come up with ten factors that the decision makers may wish to consider, and written them into an application [here] which lets you say how important YOU think each item would be if you were making the decision, and you can see what decision it suggests.
This is a bit of fun at the moment - but to help make a serious point and help us all understand the difficult decision the council has; at a later date I may well add in code to allow you to change individual factors, as at the moment much of the data is estimated. Update: The full source code is now published via my blog (links direct to the article) so you can see all the internals and factors if you wish.
So - what are the criteria I ask you to decide on?
How important is it to you ...
... to make the required saving of £2.6 million in the 2017/18 year?
Wiltshire Council's current budget for all services is around £300 million, dropping by a few million each year. The bus support costs are currently £5.1 million per annum and have been rising. How important is it to make the 50% cut in this area?
... to use a scheme which does not shift bus support costs to other budgets?
There is a risk if public transport services are cut to save costs that additional costs may fall on social services budgets in the county, on the NHS, and on people themselves. Is it important to consider this in the decision?
... that the scheme adopted is financially sustainable in following years?
Some solutions are going to set the scene for a long term positive future, but others may just store up trouble in a declining service. It costs almost as much to carry 10 people on a journey as 30, and there's a danger that if you reduce services and drive people away the remaining services will themselves be less viable - including commercial sections of routes and connections. Does this matter to you?
... that the scheme provides a network suitable for current and future users?
Is it important that the resulting system works well for users and doesn't inconvenience them too much?
... that the scheme adopted encourages new users of public transport?
Is it important to encourage new users with things like new journey opportunities, integrated ticketing, etc.?
... that the scheme adopted will be popular with the voting public?
Important from the elected representative standpoint, perhaps?
... that the scheme will be good for operators, protecting business and jobs?
The £5.1 million support currently goes to operators - and cuts in that funding will be a cut in their income by up to £1 million per annum for the worst affected. More effective savings with a concentration on making more use of each vehicle will protect jobs and livelihood better, and a scheme under which competing operators can't take you by surprise at 56 days notice would provide a more stable base for business continuation and development
... that the scheme aligns with government policy?
If a scheme is in line with government thinking and policy - especially new thinking and policy - that will encourage positive support if and when needed.
... that the scheme is as risk free as possible?
There's risk in just about anything, and less immediate risk with doing what you've done before and is established practise. So that's more bus cuts without restructure. But the Bus Services Bill is designed to minimise the risks of a new system and encourage the uptake of new powers designed with the lessons of the current system in mind.
... that the scheme works well for council team and will protect their jobs?
There is a need to have the team keen and motivated - engaged to do a good
A little bit about the buttons and factors ... each button to the left or right decreases or increases the weight given to that element by 25% - so from one extreme to the other, features become ten times more / less important.