Bus cuts could leave thousands of elderly people 'stranded and isolated'

Picture from stock

Picture from stock

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Thousands of elderly people could be left stranded and "isolated" if plans to take an axe to bus funding in south west Hertfordshire goes ahead.

Dozens of routes are under threat as county politicians look to slice £700,000 from the subsides that prop up bus services across Hertfordshire.

This week opposition leaders warned the cuts would hit elderly and vulnerable people without cars the hardest.

Doris McMeckan, who lives near Hallowes Crescent, in South Oxhey, uses the bus service daily as she is unable to drive due to her age and poor sight.

The 88-year-old said: "I’m partially blind and without the bus I can’t get out. I won’t be able to get anywhere unless I get a taxi. 

"I can’t drive because I can’t see and I’m too old now. I take the bus most days and I regularly have to go to the hospital for my heart. I’m trying to be independent.

"It’s a shock that the council are considering this. It’s going to affect a lot of people up here. It’s not our fault they aren’t making any money."

The move will see funding withdrawn from 52 of Hertfordshire’s 119 routes services that run after 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday and services that run on Sundays.

Opposition leaders have lambasted Hertfordshire County Council for considering the plans, which will leave thousands "isolated".

Stephen Giles-Medhurst, the county’s Liberal Democrat group leader, said that funding for bus services have already been significantly reduced.

He added: "There will be a lot of people who probably don’t have the financial means or private transport to get around. 

"They will be the ones most seriously affected by this and they will effectively be isolated."

Councillor Giles-Medhurst said that the "blanket size fits all" method should be scrapped and instead the council should look at route by route savings.

Nigel Bell, Hertfordshire Labour Group leader, said: "The bus service has already been cut to the bone as it is. It can’t really be cut anymore. 

"If they withdraw the funding then people are stuck. It’ll be the vulnerable, the elderly and those who don’t drive who will be most affected.

"The council has been trying to encourage people not to use their cars and this is the opposite. We think they should be providing a proper bus service."

Yet the county’s Conservative cabinet member for highways, Terry Douris, defended the plans and said he’d rather refer to the possible decrease in funding as "savings" rather than "cuts".

Councillor Douris said the plans will not affect the buses where there is a significant demand, but rather the "savings" will reduce services where there are only one or two people on the bus.

When asked about impact on the elderly, councillor Douris said: "Irrespective of their age or where they might live, if you reduce a service then potentially, if they are a bus user, this may have some impact on them.

"We recognise that not everybody is a bus user but everybody in Hertfordshire does pay tax which funds services which Hertfordshire County Council provides."

The council said that children entitled to free travel to and from school will continue to receive transport. Concessionary fares will remain in place for young and older people. 

To comment on the council’s consultation, which runs until October 8, visit www.hertsdirect.org/busconsult

Comments (11)

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1:11pm Fri 25 Jul 14

tuohy says...

I can not believe the 503 will be taken out of service our estate is huge this service is used by a lot of people when this service was bought in I was so pleased as it goes straight through to Hemel which is handy for the hospital neither my husband or I drive and as my husband has regular appointments at the hospital this has become a godsend now its going seems a little unfair why remove it is something going to replace it
I can not believe the 503 will be taken out of service our estate is huge this service is used by a lot of people when this service was bought in I was so pleased as it goes straight through to Hemel which is handy for the hospital neither my husband or I drive and as my husband has regular appointments at the hospital this has become a godsend now its going seems a little unfair why remove it is something going to replace it tuohy
  • Score: 10

1:37pm Fri 25 Jul 14

makingstars says...

THE GOVERNMENT ARE DISGUSTING! WANT TO SAVE MONEY FOR OUR COUNTRY, STOP THE GOVERNMENT WAGES! SHOULD THEY NOT BE THE ONES LIVING IN COUNCIL APARTMENTS?
YET THIS IS THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT FOR YOU. THE RICH GET RICHER, THE POOR GET POORER.
THE GOVERNMENT ARE DISGUSTING! WANT TO SAVE MONEY FOR OUR COUNTRY, STOP THE GOVERNMENT WAGES! SHOULD THEY NOT BE THE ONES LIVING IN COUNCIL APARTMENTS? YET THIS IS THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT FOR YOU. THE RICH GET RICHER, THE POOR GET POORER. makingstars
  • Score: -3

1:58pm Fri 25 Jul 14

nikoakley says...

Many people have already been left with no bus route or a far more infrequent service.

New developments have been allowed on the basis of sustainability, only to find that the bus service has been diminished once developers cash runs out.

Consolidation of services means that people have to travel even further - particularly for healthcare.

Sadly all the car-owning Tories voted for the elderly, disabled and low-paid to be even more disadvantaged.

And as for being a bit greener and getting out of your car and hopping on a bus in Herts: Not a chance.
Many people have already been left with no bus route or a far more infrequent service. New developments have been allowed on the basis of sustainability, only to find that the bus service has been diminished once developers cash runs out. Consolidation of services means that people have to travel even further - particularly for healthcare. Sadly all the car-owning Tories voted for the elderly, disabled and low-paid to be even more disadvantaged. And as for being a bit greener and getting out of your car and hopping on a bus in Herts: Not a chance. nikoakley
  • Score: 10

10:51pm Fri 25 Jul 14

LSC says...

Once again, the 'green' agenda is shown up for what it is: All about the money.
'We have to tax motorists so highly', they bleat, 'to get them out of cars that are killing the planet'.
'We build flats with no parking spaces NOT so we can squeeze in more flats into a tiny space that make us the sort of money that car-parks don't, but to discourage car ownership and save the planet'.
'Get on public transport' they say.

Then bus services are cut, again.

Is it any wonder that anyone with half a brain looks at the 'green' lobby, then points and laughs at them?
Once again, the 'green' agenda is shown up for what it is: All about the money. 'We have to tax motorists so highly', they bleat, 'to get them out of cars that are killing the planet'. 'We build flats with no parking spaces NOT so we can squeeze in more flats into a tiny space that make us the sort of money that car-parks don't, but to discourage car ownership and save the planet'. 'Get on public transport' they say. Then bus services are cut, again. Is it any wonder that anyone with half a brain looks at the 'green' lobby, then points and laughs at them? LSC
  • Score: 2

8:21pm Sat 26 Jul 14

WatfordAlex says...

LSC wrote:
Once again, the 'green' agenda is shown up for what it is: All about the money.
'We have to tax motorists so highly', they bleat, 'to get them out of cars that are killing the planet'.
'We build flats with no parking spaces NOT so we can squeeze in more flats into a tiny space that make us the sort of money that car-parks don't, but to discourage car ownership and save the planet'.
'Get on public transport' they say.

Then bus services are cut, again.

Is it any wonder that anyone with half a brain looks at the 'green' lobby, then points and laughs at them?
Once again your spouting nonsense LSC. The 'green lobby' want more public transport and better cycling/pedestrian links first, with efforts to discourage higher polluting cars only once decent alternatives are in place. The Conservatives that run the County Council are as divorced from the 'green lobby' as you are.
[quote][p][bold]LSC[/bold] wrote: Once again, the 'green' agenda is shown up for what it is: All about the money. 'We have to tax motorists so highly', they bleat, 'to get them out of cars that are killing the planet'. 'We build flats with no parking spaces NOT so we can squeeze in more flats into a tiny space that make us the sort of money that car-parks don't, but to discourage car ownership and save the planet'. 'Get on public transport' they say. Then bus services are cut, again. Is it any wonder that anyone with half a brain looks at the 'green' lobby, then points and laughs at them?[/p][/quote]Once again your spouting nonsense LSC. The 'green lobby' want more public transport and better cycling/pedestrian links first, with efforts to discourage higher polluting cars only once decent alternatives are in place. The Conservatives that run the County Council are as divorced from the 'green lobby' as you are. WatfordAlex
  • Score: 2

12:00am Sun 27 Jul 14

Andrew1963 says...

It's all crocodile tears from the liberal Democrats. They said Labour spent too much, but when things are cut back they round about waiving petitions. They did the same on student finance, complained labour were charging, ran around getting names on petitions as part of the election plot to get information on voters and then when they had some influence forgot about their promises. At the end of the day, you either say we should spend the money or you except things stop. In Watford the only decent bus services are the 142 & 258. I use them as a car owner, because unlike the rest, they run high frequency with an easy way to pay and understand fare structure with an Oyster card. All other bus services are low frequency, I have no idea what the price is, are not integrated to trains and tubes and therefore do not attract custom from people with cars.
It's all crocodile tears from the liberal Democrats. They said Labour spent too much, but when things are cut back they round about waiving petitions. They did the same on student finance, complained labour were charging, ran around getting names on petitions as part of the election plot to get information on voters and then when they had some influence forgot about their promises. At the end of the day, you either say we should spend the money or you except things stop. In Watford the only decent bus services are the 142 & 258. I use them as a car owner, because unlike the rest, they run high frequency with an easy way to pay and understand fare structure with an Oyster card. All other bus services are low frequency, I have no idea what the price is, are not integrated to trains and tubes and therefore do not attract custom from people with cars. Andrew1963
  • Score: 3

1:03am Sun 27 Jul 14

LSC says...

WatfordAlex wrote:
LSC wrote:
Once again, the 'green' agenda is shown up for what it is: All about the money.
'We have to tax motorists so highly', they bleat, 'to get them out of cars that are killing the planet'.
'We build flats with no parking spaces NOT so we can squeeze in more flats into a tiny space that make us the sort of money that car-parks don't, but to discourage car ownership and save the planet'.
'Get on public transport' they say.

Then bus services are cut, again.

Is it any wonder that anyone with half a brain looks at the 'green' lobby, then points and laughs at them?
Once again your spouting nonsense LSC. The 'green lobby' want more public transport and better cycling/pedestrian links first, with efforts to discourage higher polluting cars only once decent alternatives are in place. The Conservatives that run the County Council are as divorced from the 'green lobby' as you are.
So your idea is more bus routes and more busses, run by private companies at a huge loss, until people wise up and realise they don't need a car.
Do you have a time scale in mind for that to happen? Before the bus companies go bust from such huge losses? Or would you have our taxes subsidise them to keep them going?

This is a car culture and always will be. If that phone rings and a member of my family is in hospital, I'm not waiting for a 142 or reaching for my lycra. I'm in my car, and on my way. That will never change.
[quote][p][bold]WatfordAlex[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]LSC[/bold] wrote: Once again, the 'green' agenda is shown up for what it is: All about the money. 'We have to tax motorists so highly', they bleat, 'to get them out of cars that are killing the planet'. 'We build flats with no parking spaces NOT so we can squeeze in more flats into a tiny space that make us the sort of money that car-parks don't, but to discourage car ownership and save the planet'. 'Get on public transport' they say. Then bus services are cut, again. Is it any wonder that anyone with half a brain looks at the 'green' lobby, then points and laughs at them?[/p][/quote]Once again your spouting nonsense LSC. The 'green lobby' want more public transport and better cycling/pedestrian links first, with efforts to discourage higher polluting cars only once decent alternatives are in place. The Conservatives that run the County Council are as divorced from the 'green lobby' as you are.[/p][/quote]So your idea is more bus routes and more busses, run by private companies at a huge loss, until people wise up and realise they don't need a car. Do you have a time scale in mind for that to happen? Before the bus companies go bust from such huge losses? Or would you have our taxes subsidise them to keep them going? This is a car culture and always will be. If that phone rings and a member of my family is in hospital, I'm not waiting for a 142 or reaching for my lycra. I'm in my car, and on my way. That will never change. LSC
  • Score: -4

1:54am Sun 27 Jul 14

Honest Rog says...

Me. Me. Me. The plaintive wail of the car culture apologists. OK, sit in your tin cans and keep kidding yourself how "free" you are but don't comment on the disadvantaged and elderly who are affected by these cuts. I eschewed the selfish car culture 35 years ago and am physically and financially healthier as a result. I find the bus services around Watford to be adequate and almost back to the frequency levels of the excellent green "London Country Buses". Bring 'em back is wot I say!
To fund this whack another 20p on a litre of derv and gas.
Funny how the polluters try to couch the term "Green" in a derogatory way.
Buses.
Me. Me. Me. The plaintive wail of the car culture apologists. OK, sit in your tin cans and keep kidding yourself how "free" you are but don't comment on the disadvantaged and elderly who are affected by these cuts. I eschewed the selfish car culture 35 years ago and am physically and financially healthier as a result. I find the bus services around Watford to be adequate and almost back to the frequency levels of the excellent green "London Country Buses". Bring 'em back is wot I say! To fund this whack another 20p on a litre of derv and gas. Funny how the polluters try to couch the term "Green" in a derogatory way. Buses. Honest Rog
  • Score: 3

9:01am Sun 27 Jul 14

Jack18 says...

I think it is disgraceful that HCC are even considering cutting several bus routes which are essential to get people to destinations especially those who don't drive, myself included. I have got to admit the evening bus service for 8 and 10 are terrible, the drivers are obsessed on getting to the end destination on time so they drive erratically. They have also stopped taking Arriva tickets. I sometimes travel on some of those routes for leisure purposes. 503 is an ideal bus route linking with the 8 giving a 15 minute service between South Oxhey and Watford Town Centre. It also works well with 500 giving a 15 minute service between Hemel Hempstead and Watford (320 is also a good route to Hemel via Garston). I honestly don't know why 503 is being cut as well as some of the other routes. I think HCC are making the wrong decision.
I think it is disgraceful that HCC are even considering cutting several bus routes which are essential to get people to destinations especially those who don't drive, myself included. I have got to admit the evening bus service for 8 and 10 are terrible, the drivers are obsessed on getting to the end destination on time so they drive erratically. They have also stopped taking Arriva tickets. I sometimes travel on some of those routes for leisure purposes. 503 is an ideal bus route linking with the 8 giving a 15 minute service between South Oxhey and Watford Town Centre. It also works well with 500 giving a 15 minute service between Hemel Hempstead and Watford (320 is also a good route to Hemel via Garston). I honestly don't know why 503 is being cut as well as some of the other routes. I think HCC are making the wrong decision. Jack18
  • Score: 3

2:47pm Sun 27 Jul 14

LSC says...

Honest Rog wrote:
Me. Me. Me. The plaintive wail of the car culture apologists. OK, sit in your tin cans and keep kidding yourself how "free" you are but don't comment on the disadvantaged and elderly who are affected by these cuts. I eschewed the selfish car culture 35 years ago and am physically and financially healthier as a result. I find the bus services around Watford to be adequate and almost back to the frequency levels of the excellent green "London Country Buses". Bring 'em back is wot I say!
To fund this whack another 20p on a litre of derv and gas.
Funny how the polluters try to couch the term "Green" in a derogatory way.
Buses.
I'm trying to look at the case in the real world. Yes, I agree totally that buses are a lifeline for the elderly and disadvantaged. But most of them get free bus travel, so where does the money come from? The only way is to up the ticket price to the younger users, making bus travel even less attractive than it already is.
Buses are not green in the slightest. They spend a lot of time in low gears, stop and start a lot by nature and sit by the side of the road with the engine running going no-where while passengers get on and off. All day.
For a bus to even match it's own carbon footprint, it must be at 75% capacity for it's entire route, and ALL the passengers would have to be driving cars instead. Otherwise it pollutes more than it provides.
So to suggest they are 'Green' is misguided; they are major polluters.
[quote][p][bold]Honest Rog[/bold] wrote: Me. Me. Me. The plaintive wail of the car culture apologists. OK, sit in your tin cans and keep kidding yourself how "free" you are but don't comment on the disadvantaged and elderly who are affected by these cuts. I eschewed the selfish car culture 35 years ago and am physically and financially healthier as a result. I find the bus services around Watford to be adequate and almost back to the frequency levels of the excellent green "London Country Buses". Bring 'em back is wot I say! To fund this whack another 20p on a litre of derv and gas. Funny how the polluters try to couch the term "Green" in a derogatory way. Buses.[/p][/quote]I'm trying to look at the case in the real world. Yes, I agree totally that buses are a lifeline for the elderly and disadvantaged. But most of them get free bus travel, so where does the money come from? The only way is to up the ticket price to the younger users, making bus travel even less attractive than it already is. Buses are not green in the slightest. They spend a lot of time in low gears, stop and start a lot by nature and sit by the side of the road with the engine running going no-where while passengers get on and off. All day. For a bus to even match it's own carbon footprint, it must be at 75% capacity for it's entire route, and ALL the passengers would have to be driving cars instead. Otherwise it pollutes more than it provides. So to suggest they are 'Green' is misguided; they are major polluters. LSC
  • Score: 0

3:45pm Tue 29 Jul 14

mooseampa says...

I do not drive due to a medical condition where I occasionally pass out for a couple of minutes. I work shifts in leavesden between the hour of 8 and 10. If these bus services get cut I end up facing a daily 1hr 30min wlk betwen leavesden and watford which would be very difficult , taxis not an option as to expensive. Effectivly I would have to become unemployed. This decision is incredible are Herts council seriously going to deprive the vunerable and poor of any means of transport at evenings and weekends.
I do not drive due to a medical condition where I occasionally pass out for a couple of minutes. I work shifts in leavesden between the hour of 8 and 10. If these bus services get cut I end up facing a daily 1hr 30min wlk betwen leavesden and watford which would be very difficult , taxis not an option as to expensive. Effectivly I would have to become unemployed. This decision is incredible are Herts council seriously going to deprive the vunerable and poor of any means of transport at evenings and weekends. mooseampa
  • Score: 3

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