Since 2011 I have been regularly riding the 231 bus service to ride from Corsham and into Bath, either for university, socialisation or for work. Today I was very shocked to find out that this service will be discontinued on the 24th of April. To me this seems like a terrible idea and I really hope that it will be reconsidered.
So that the people of Corsham still have a way to travel to Bath (and Chippenham) after First’ 231 services comes to an end, the X31 is set to replace it. The X31 is a more expensive service run by Faresaver (an ironically named rival to First) which is less regular and doesn’t start until later in the day than the 231 and also stops much earlier than the 231. So we’ll be paying more for a lesser service. What’s more is that Faresaver do not offer any kind of bus pass, so it also means prices will be higher because bus passes won’t be available. That’s not to mention that it’s going to be a lot more expensive to travel to places like Bristol, since you’d have to travel using two bus services and would be unable to use a single day ticket. For people who are already doing minimum wage jobs, this loss of money will be pretty significant.
In my case, losing out on the later bus services will have a terrible impact on my social life. I would be unable to stay in Bath and visit people as I had before, if the bus services ends at 6pm, as the x31 does. Socialisation is an extremely important thing which is not to be taken for granted and if it’s going to happen to me it’s going to happen to others too.
Let’s think of Corsham: it has no train station and, after this, it will have only the bare minimum when it comes to bus services. It’s not going to be appealing place to live for people without cars. I wonder how many people will move away? Corsham will become isolated. It needs this bus service to stay connected to the rest of the world. The 231 is a partially council funded service and they should make it a priority to increase its funding so that the service can continue.
In the run up to the election, Michelle Donelan (who is now our MP) made a big deal about pushing for a Corsham train station. Naturally, you would then assume that she considers it important for Corsham to be connected to other towns and cities via different forms of public transport. We’ve heard nothing about this since she won the election and, fair enough, she’s doubtlessly found herself with a lot of other things to focus on, but if she has any integrity and truly cares about Corsham transportation, she should be doing all she can to save the 231! Everyone would prefer higher fares than not having the service at all, so let her know how you feel: tweet @michelledonelan or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have sent her a message, and will try to reach out to her in other ways as well and I hope you do too!
EDIT: Faresaver have contacted me to point out that they do offer bus passes. This was an oversight on my half. However, the point stands that it will be more expensive than it was with the 231 and that travel beyond Bath will still be a difficult.