Thank you for your letter and attached petition which was received on 26 July 2018.
Your petition, which has 105 signatures, requests that the Southampton and Lymington Bluestar 6 bus route should be re-routed along the A35 and Wharton Lane and cease to use New Road and Ashdene Road.
The Southampton and Lymington service was one of a series of contracts awarded in 2015 following a countywide review of supported bus services. The tender provides for 4 journeys each way between Southampton and Lymington on a Monday to Saturday and 5 during the holidays. The winning bidder, Bluestar, has enhanced this by adding commercial journeys so that there are 9 journeys each way on Monday to Saturday, 10 during the holidays, as well as a Sunday service. The additional journeys are operated commercially without funding from the County Council.
The annual subsidy cost for the Bluestar 6 is £68,904 and in 2017/18 our surveys showed that 68,160 passengers used the subsidised journeys. New Road and Ashdene Road are included in the route on both commercial and subsidised journeys to provide access for those people who would find getting to the main road stops either difficult or impossible. Department for Transport inclusive mobility guidance states that residents should be within 400m of a bus stop and parts of Ashdene Road are a third of a mile from Lyndhurst Road. There are 6 stops on New Road and Ashdene Road and our surveys show that these were used for 3,598 passenger journeys or about 5% of total passengers on the subsidised journeys. I would expect that passengers would also use these stops on the commercial journeys, which are the majority of journeys, but I do not have this information at hand at the time of writing.
The current roads have been an established bus route for many years and in view of the significant number of passengers who would be affected by the change it would not be appropriate to remove this well used service.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the petition.
Cllr R Humby
Executive Member for Environment and Transport
Petition: To stop the Bluestar Bus running through Ashurst via New Road and Ashdene Road
Thank you for your email.
In my earlier email, I set out why the Bluestar 6 operates along Ashdene Road: to provide access for those residents who would otherwise be a third of a mile from Lyndhurst Road when Department for Transport inclusive mobility guidance states that residents should be within 400m of a bus stop. Our surveys show that the 6 stops concerned were used for 3,598 passenger journeys or about 5% of total passengers on the subsidised journeys and that subsidised journeys accounted for fewer than half of the journeys on the route so that expected use would be higher than the figure quoted.
As Executive Member for Environment and Transport, I seek officer support for the responses that I provide and the figures quoted in Peter Shelley’s email to Ms Wareham formed part of my reply as the survey attached to the recent petition had been included in Ms Wareham’s email of 4 April 2018 for which the earlier reply had been provided.
Turning to the use of the road itself, a local bus service may operate along any road which is not subject to a height, width or weight restriction. The Bluestar 6 and its predecessor services have, I understand, operated along the road for many years without any concerns being raised by my highways officers.
With regard to any complaints of damage to property caused by vibration by passing buses, colleagues in Hampshire Highways can undertake a detailed survey with precise measuring equipment if a complaint is a raised by a particular property owner.
As to damage to the grass verges in the winter months, the bus company have a record of repairing any verge damage they themselves cause through error. However they cannot be responsible for damage caused by other vehicles. I understand that the last incident reported was in August 2017.
As to the way in which buses are driven, the buses have now have monitors which record their speed on any section of the route and many now also have cctv so particular complaints can be investigated and overall performance monitored. The carriageway provides sufficient width for a bus and a car to pass and for a bus to pass a delivery vehicle as long it is parked alongside the kerb. With regard to the danger to vehicles reversing out of driveways at the bottom of Ashdene Road Hill, I am not aware of any such incident involving a bus.
With regard to your calculations as to how many people use Bluestar 6 on the Ashdene Road loop, because many bus users do not travel every day, any change would affect a significant number of individuals.
If it would be useful, I will ask Peter Shelley to contact you with a view to arranging a meeting with yourself, the Parish Council and the bus company to fully understand the views of all concerned.
Thank you for raising this matter.
Councillor Rob Humby
Executive Member for Environment and Transport