Thursday, May 31, 2007

Time to get active

Anyone noticed the change to the timetables by FirstBus (or FistBus as my old mucker BathNick would call them, because that's what they're doing to the travelling public)?

How's this for logical thinking? The Cremyll ferry leaves Admiral's Hard on the Plymouth side at quarter to and quarter past the hour; the crossing takes approximately 7 minutes.

FistBus have retimetabled for the summer (the busiest time for the Cremyll ferry) so that their Tamar Link (or unLink) service now leaves Cremyll at....yep, you've guessed it...quarter past the hour!

So, if you leave Plymouth at quarter to the hour, you've got at least 23 minutes to wait. But worse is to come: leave Plymouth on the quarter past ferry and you'll be waiting for 53 minutes if the bus is running to time!

What one suspects, of course, is that FistBus management have decided that they don't really want to run this local (and unprofitable) service at all, but need to gather statistics which can be presented to County Hall which show very low or non-existent ticket sales. County Hall will then have no option but to either allow FistBus to drop the service altogether or to cough up a significantly higher subsidy to keep the service running.

This is the principal problem with privately run transport services. A plc has a duty, under law, to protect its shareholders above all else. Providing a service (no matter how vital to a local community) is of a significantly lower priority than providing a decent dividend to shareholders.

In that sense, First is doing nothing wrong at all. In every other sense it's simply ridiculous that any company can be allowed to deprive a community of essential transport links at sensible and usable times.

So what can we do? In the short term Fist have set the timetables, and they will have been aproved by County Hall. The timetable is not going to change overnight. We need to campaign, we need to write to County Hall, to FirstBus senior management, to Colin Breed, to Sheryll Murray (sorry - but it has to be done) and to our own Parish Council to get this matter high on everyone's agenda.

If we don't do this, trust me, the service will be lost and it will be lost sooner than you think. Once it's gone we'll never get it back.

Here's who to contact, please spare a few minutes to cut and paste the template letter (don't forget to put in your own details) and please forward it on to as many people in the Rame Peninsula as you can. Thanks for helping to get this campaign going...I'll let you know of any developments.

1) Sheryll Murray:

2) The Passenger Transport Unit at Cornwall County Council:

3) Gerald Taylor, Managing Director First Bus Devon & Cornwall, PO Box 141, Plymouth,


4) Colin Breed, MP or at Westminster

5) Millbrook Parish Council, Millbrook Village Hall, The Parade, Millbrook, PL10 1AY

You can contact First Bus by completing the on-line form at

Cut & Paste template letter / message:


Dear .................................,

I write to express my concern with the new timetable for First Buses serving Cremyll on the Rame Peninsula.

Since 20th May, the Cremyll ferry is no longer met on the Cornish side by a bus to Millbrook, Kingsand/Cawsand or Tregonhawke Cliffs leaving these communities without a suitable public transport link from Plymouth.

The bus (81C) is now scheduled to leave Cremyll at 0805, 0855 (which does meet a ferry), 1010, 1110, 1210, 1315, 1415, 1515, 1615, 1740 (which does meet a ferry), 1820, 1910.

Of these buses only two will allow a passenger to use a bus having disembarked from the ferry without at least a 23 minute wait and, should one be travelling on a ferry from Stonehouse at quarter past the hour a 53 minute wait!

This is a severe reduction in usable services and is a considerable disadvantage to those who live in these rural communities who do not have access to a car. This ill thought out rescheduling could easily result in fewer passengers for the Cremyll Ferry.

I fear that First Bus may seek to show lower ticket sales and passenger numbers on this route as an excuse to either stop serving Cremyll at all or to demand a higher subsidy from Cornwall. This would not be acceptable to me, nor to many people in the Rame Peninsula.

I request that you address this complaint at the rescheduling of services to/from Cremyll and the Rame Pensilula and that the old scheduling which ensured at least one ferry per hour was met by a bus with little or no scheduled wait is reinstated at the earliest possible opportunity. I look forward to your reply.

With thanks for your attention.

Yours ........................


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