Your consultation form was pretty restrictive (e.g. did not enable responses from bus users from outside of Essex; did not enable comments beyond one’s own personal use of routes) so I am emailing to oppose cutting evening services on these routes.
Continuing evening services on these routes is important from an environmental point of view, as bus use mitigates carbon emissions and climate change; and the air pollution that kills thousands every year.
It’s important to social inclusion: many people – disproportionately older and disabled people; young people; and those on low incomes: 64% of job seekers have no access to a car. It is unjust to condemn these people to being trapped in their homes in the evening, unless they can afford a taxi or rely on the goodwill of friends and neighbours.
Evening services are essential for local businesses especially pubs and restaurants: not only so their employees can get home but so customers can get home. This is especially true for venues serving alcohol, in the context of drink-driving.
The high cost per passenger journey could be changed if multi-operator tickets were introduced, or if there was better promotion of this bus to increase passenger numbers – e.g. when I arrived at Waltham Cross station today there was not even signage directing me to the bus station, let alone material promoting buses. There’s evidence that linking rail and bus increases passenger numbers:
I recommend that the council postpone any cuts to these services while they look at new powers in the Bus Services Act and how they could use these to grow passenger numbers to make these evening services more commercially viable, and /or cross-subsidise them, through partnerships or franchising. It is worth looking at how Kent Council is looking to use these powers to ensure a comprehensive bus network that supports the council’s ambitions on employment, carbon emissions and social inclusion:
Please let me know if you would like to meet to discuss further how Essex might use the Bus Services Act to protect connectivity for residents.