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5 ... reasons not to get the bus

I don't have a car. This means I use public transport. I may grouch about the trains a lot (UKP 98.00 return to York last week, the return train was running over an hour late and appeared to think the coaches didn't need heating in October in the UK) but I grouch about the local buses here in Exeter a lot more. So here are five reasons not to use stagecoach devon.

  1. price
    I thought I was being unfair comparing the cost of a fare in Exeter to the cost in London. LT is subsidised by Ken etc. so it's not the same. Yes, last year it was only UKP 0.70 from my then partner's house to Heathrow airport (about 4 miles) and it was UKP 0.95 from my house to the High Street (about 1.5 miles) but I couldn't compare a regional service with the one in the capital.

    On Monday, I got a bus in Yorkshire and decided that, no, actually, we are being ripped off here in Exeter.

    Return fare Wakefield Westgate - Overton (6 miles) = UKP 2.10.
    Return fare my house - Exeter Odeon cinema (1.8 miles) = UKP 1.55.

    It's not even the most economic public transport in Exeter. A bus from the stop right by Exeter St Thomas station to the High Street is UKP 1.00 (single fare). A train from Exeter St Thomas station to Exeter Central (less than 2 minutes walk from the High Street) is UKP 0.70 (single fare).

  2. journey time
    My street is one of the main routes into and out of the city. In term time it is jammed with people driving in after dropping the little darlings at school. So the council put in a bus lane. Between 7.30am and 9.15am, only buses and taxis may use the lane, speeding past the stationary traffic. Except most mornings there is at least one car parked in it (three this morning, with no sign of their owners or a traffic warden fining them) so the bus has to stay in the main traffic lane.

    In addition there are no priority bus lanes over the notorious Exe Bridges, so it can take five minutes to cross the river (on foot time, under two minutes).

    Effectively, this means it is not faster than walking during the rush hours. I walk past the bus stop, seeing familiar strangers waiting for the bus and then walk past the same people as they get off the bus in town. OK, so I'm out of breath from walking up a 1/11 incline, but at least I haven't paid to do it.

  3. service times
    The University of Exeter has several entertainment venues: the Northcott Theatre, the Great Hall, the Lemon Grove. The campus itself is on the northern edge of town, up one of our lovely hills. Gigs and plays go on till 11pm, easily. The bus service to/from campus stops at 6.30pm.

  4. service routes
    Exeter is not a massive city. It does, however, have a bottleneck of a river crossing (the Exe Bridges) and inner and outer ring roads. There are no cicular bus routes. Every bus journey in the city has to go through the High Street. It would be more effective to have the feeder buses crossing a circular route. That involves changes buses once or twice, but would also enable cross-city journeys to be made more effectively (wider roads, no city centre junctions).

  5. price
    OK, I cheated, this is number 1 again. but it's because of 2, 3 and 4 that the exorbinate fares really really rankle.

Everywhere on the main commuter routes into the city are signs encouraging car share and other ways of reducing traffic (Exeter air being shown to be less healthy than Hammersmith Broadway). Every night the Exe Bridges are almost at grid lock. The council themselves did a test of different transport methods: the bus and car journeys were the least time effective. But, as long as the bus is not economic, speedy, or providing useful routes at reasonable times, the majority of those car users will keep on using private transport.

Posted @ 11:07 am on Friday, October 29, 2004
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