Yet again the 8.22am Webbers bus does not turn up at the bus stop in Hyde Road, Creech St Michael, near Taunton and a queue of people are left stranded. 8 students were unable to get to Richard Huish College and Somerset College, workers couldn’t get to their offices in town and others missed their appointments. It’s such a regular occurrence that it is making people’s lives a misery.
Dismayed by the situation, Prospective Conservative MP Rebecca Pow, who lives nearby, went to see the situation for herself:
‘It is unbelievable that a service whose strap line is ‘providing an efficient and reliable bus service’ should be so utterly the opposite. These hard working students are missing lectures and often getting reprimanded for being late when this is really not their fault. What’s more they have paid for their bus passes in advance!
It’s a poor example for them if they can’t even be given the tools to get to their places of learning on time. In addition workers are finding it impossible to be punctual and the elderly often can’t get to crucial medical appointments. This kind of service for our community is totally unacceptable, especially as we are supposed to be encouraging people to use public transport when in fact they are being penalised for it!’
83 year old June Chandler, who’d been standing outside in the cold for an hour waiting for the next bus, is exasperated:
‘It happened to me twice last week. I had a chiropodist appointment and a dentist appointment and the bus didn’t come on time for either and each time I had to wait another hour in the hope that the next bus would turn up. Everyone who has an appointment gets to the bus stop two hours early to allow for this. It’s hopeless.’
Richard Huish student Matthew Hurley has found himself in trouble at college as a result of the bus being late so often:
‘I have had 5 warnings for attendance because they think I’ve been skiving. I’ve got a £600 bus pass and my Mum’s a single parent and she’s laying out a lot of money and often I still can’t get to college on time.’
Ashley Johnson is in a similar boat trying to get to Somerset College every day:
‘I have to get the bus, I have no one who can drive me to college. Sometimes I’ve waited here for 3 hours and the bus doesn’t come at all. I’ve been reprimanded by the college for being late when it’s not my fault it is genuinely the bus being late and it’s totally out of my control.’
Bethany Skinner and Georgina Ellicott also rely on the bus and say that buses to get them home are just as unreliable as those in the morning as Georgina explains:
‘The return trip is just as bad. We’ve waited 4 hours for a bus before now and sometimes we have to catch a taxi back from town which costs us £10.20 when we already have a bus pass.’
Sam Gillard, who has to get to Musgrove Park Hospital to work and is regularly let down has tried in vain to contact Bridgwater based bus company Webbers about the poor service:
‘I’ve sent emails and received no replies, I’ve called and no one responds. Somerset County Council say they can’t do anything as it’s not a subsidised bus route it’s an independent route and Webbers have the contact.’
Retired local man, Gordon Lucas has been trying for months to improve the situation but has had no joy from the bus company and in desperation he contacted local Rebecca Pow. He is calling for the Transport Commission to take away Webber’s license:
‘A couple of years ago Webbers stopped the 15A bus service which came from Bridgwater, to Walford Cross, through Creech Heathfield, Creech St Michael and into town and ever since then we have had a terrible bus service. If they could reinstate that service we would all be happy. I think the Transport Commission should revoke Webber’s license.’
‘I am doing whatever I can to get a better bus service operating for the whole community of Creech St Michael and others relying on this route,’ says Rebecca Pow, ‘I have already been in discussion with Cllr David Fothergill at Somerset County Council and I fully back the letter he has just sent to Webbers calling for an improvement in the service. I urge the company to get this sorted out as a priority and stop letting these long suffering people down and get back to ‘serving the community’ something they pride themselves on doing on their website but are clearly not living up to.’
Picture: Rebecca Pow, Prosp Conservative MP for Taunton Deane waits with students and locals for the bus in Creech St Michael which does not come.
Picture credit: Alain Lockyer