News & Events
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Send any text or pictures to Karen Morris: email@example.com. I will update the website as soon as possible.
Dunsford's Bus Service: The survey results are in
The Parish Plan working group has been looking at another of its target issues – ensuring we are valuing and using the current bus service. It was agreed that a useful starting point would be a survey of locals – bus-users and non-users. This suggestion gained support from the Principal Transport Co-ordinating Officer at Devon County Council (who subsidise the service) who kindly provided a briefing on how the support from the Council was provided, gave some input into the framing of the questions and expressed a wish to see the results of the survey. The contract for the service (for 8 years) runs until May 2019 and so will be being tendered again shortly.
Survey – the process
The survey is at Appendix A (available in the full report, which is available to download at the end of this article). It was publicised in the Parish magazine (for September) having been trailed as coming in an earlier article including the Devon County Council briefing and on the Parish Council noticeboards. A copy of the survey was made available together with the full Devon County Council article on the website and a supply of the surveys was made available in Dunsford Stores from the beginning September until Saturday 29 th September. Suzanne Cosgrave spent Monday 24 th September on the bus making 6 journeys during the day and encouraging passengers to complete the survey. The passenger response to being asked was on the whole helpful and those who enquired about the purpose of the survey were very supportive. The hoped-for benefit of handing out surveys on the bus materialised i.e. several school/college/uni students completed the survey so too did a number of people who use the bus for work.
Survey – the sample
57 surveys were completed, the completed surveys are anonymous and have nothing which identifies the person who completed each one and so no personal data issues arise. The full details of the responses is at Appendix B but in summary:-
- The sample of 57 is broadly distributed including users, 50 and non- users 7.
- The ages of those responding were 38 in the 16-64 age range and 19 of 65+.
- 24 out of the 57 respondents held a National Bus Pass entitling them to free travel (5 of those who held such a pass were in the 16-64 age range)
- 39 out of 57 were Dunsford residents
The survey documents have been passed to Dunsford Parish Clerk for safe-keeping.
What did we learn?
Some high-level observations:
- There is a considerable number of the respondents who are bus users in the 16-64 age group: it is not as seems to be thought by some non-bus users a service simply used by the elderly with a National Bus pass.
- The desired enhancement most often referred to is the extension of the bus service to provide a later i.e. evening service to enable people in Dunsford (and Moretonhampstead) to take part in the social activities available in Exeter. This was mentioned by 17 out of the 57 respondents. This again was not solely an older generation point, those attending school/college/uni feel they are unable to participate fully in the activities available for them as there is no easy (affordable) way to get home afterwards. There was a particular comment about the wish to see reintroduced the previously available 18:30 service into Exeter.
- One suggestion involved a “seasonal special” service to take people in to Exeter (and return) during the period of the Christmas market – to see the Christmas lights, visit the market and do late night Christmas shopping.
- This seems to be a very interesting and possibly viable (perhaps even at short notice for Christmas 2018) suggestion that would both engender a sense of community at Christmas and enable a test of how much use an evening service might get. Could it perhaps could be assisted by the Parish Council financially under its general powers of enhancing “wellbeing” in the community? Or using Acorn minibuses?
- What wasn’t raised –
o there were no explicit adverse comments on the level of the fares except that the request for a combined family/parent and child fare was an implicit reference to the costs.
o However, it was noticeable that the three fare-specific questions asked demonstrated a low level of knowledge about the good value special fares available even among quite regular bus users – only 8 knew of the three fares quoted and only 15 knew of 2 or 3 of the fares quoted.
o There were a few comments made about the lack of a Sunday service.
What actions would address issues raised?
Not every suggestion/request is reflected here – the full details are provided in the comments section of the full survey data. What are identified are those that seem to be important, relevant to the Parish Council and (perhaps) quite simple to tackle in the short term by the Parish Council and/or Countrybus. The issues of an hourly service, a timetabled later/evening bus service, and wheelchair access are issues that would probably require the service contracted by Devon County Council to be significantly amended and hopefully when preparing the next tender this will be informed by those aspects of residents’ feedback.
- Better publicity about fares generally and the good value multi-trip tickets and National Bus fare top-up. Could these be displayed with the bus timetable and in the village store in Dunsford?
- Better signage relating to where the bus stops. Perhaps a map indicating where the recognised stops are within the village.
- Provide more information about hailing a bus outside of the town/city.
- Undertake a trial run of a Christmas special service to provide an evening shopping, see the market and the lights and return.
- When it is standing room only could the bus driver request those better able to stand to give up their seats?
- Would the bus company consider offering an enhancement to the current fare structure with a parent and child or family rate, perhaps at weekends or school holidays. This would seem a good idea not only for the car-less but also to encourage parents away from car use.
The one very clear complaint raised posed a very important question, What are passengers to do when the last service (most particularly the 18:15 from Exeter) is cancelled? There is no obvious quick answer to this but the cost to a passenger is very substantial if they need to resort to a taxi – the current (Apple taxi) fare to Dunsford is around £24. Perhaps Devon County Council would think to address this in their next tender document?
What should the Parish Council do next?
The survey has engaged a considerable number of Dunsford residents. This survey generated many more responses than we had for the mobile phone and broadband survey which must itself reflect how strongly locals feel about, and how they value the service. It is anecdotal evidence but there have been numerous occasions in the last month when people have commented on the survey when in the village store. The results should be given publicity as the mobile phone survey was. The recommendations are that the survey report is made available on the website, a short piece submitted to the parish magazine and the results shared in full with Devon County Council and Countrybus and perhaps be made available to Moretonhampstead Town Council who may wish to follow-up on some aspects themselves.
The Parish Plan working group would like to record their thanks for the help and information from Devon County Council (John Richardson-Dawes) and Countrybus (Neil Romig) . Countrybus met the cost of the bus journeys. Our thanks also to Cllr Karen Morris and Alison Saunders in the Dunsford village stores who were so active in encouraging the completion of surveys in the shop. Suzanne Cosgrave, Cllr Hannah Phipps and Martin Sharland
The full report, including diagrams and Appendices is available here: http://bit.ly/2RLabJ4
Dunsford Parish Plan update regarding the Connectivity working group's progress
The Connectivity working group has turned its attention to another of its objectives - the 359 bus service. The residents feedback was that the bus service is much appreciated by those who use it and it would be a huge loss if were discontinued. The sub-group wants to ensure there is no risk we may lose it so want to publicise it more widely – we need to “love it” or we may lose it. We have met the official at Devon County Council so we can understand more about how the subsidies to bus services work and what the residents and users of the bus could be doing to ensure the message come through loud and clear that it is a valued and a crucial service for the residents of Dunsford. John Richardson-Dawes is the Principal Transport Co-ordinating Officer at Devon County Council and has kindly provided the brief summary below to help with our wider understanding
About eighty per cent of bus services run ‘commercially.’ This means bus companies providing services according to what’s financially viable. There is no formal local authority control over these services and no public subsidy, apart from a small grant from government in Westminster which originally refunded the duty on fuel.
Not surprisingly, most ‘commercial’ bus services are in towns and cities and on main roads between large towns. In rural areas bus services are rarely profitable. Legislation recognizes this by allowing county councils to buy in services which would otherwise not be provided. They do this by going out to tender for services they want to see provided. Contracts are then let to whichever bus company offers the best value arrangement for running the service in question.
This is how your local bus - the 359 - comes about. Since no bus company is willing or able to keep this going ‘commercially,’ Devon County Council, having gone out to tender, has a contract with Country Bus. The contract lasts for eight years - the maximum allowable - and was last tendered in April 2011. This means a new contract will soon be tendered for to take effect from May 2019. The County Council sets the timetable, route and fares, not the bus company.
For a rural county, Devon has a good bus network. In spite of budget cuts caused by reductions in government funding to local authorities, Devon has remained committed to keeping services like the 359 because it is recognized that they are vital to the life of our communities. The 359 accounts for about 41,500 passenger trips a year (a passenger trip is a one-way journey, these being recorded every time someone boards the bus). This figure is very important because Devon evaluates its subsidy commitment in terms of how much a services costs for every passenger trip. The lower the subsidy per passenger trip, the better the chances of the service being unaffected by any pressures on expenditure.
The 359 consists of one vehicle and driver running back and forth, fitting in as many journeys as possible - allowing for some recovery time and the driver’s breaks. It briefly needs a second vehicle and driver to run the last bus (at 1815) from Exeter. It’s therefore a cost-effective operation and there are no plans right now to cut it! However, new customers are always welcomed.
Country Bus have just upgraded their ticket machines, which enables them to be part of the County Council’s real time information system. This system tracks buses and supplies predicted actual times of arrival, aimed at being useful when there are traffic delays. The information can either be seen on a limited number of displays in the street, or on-line http://www.devonrti.com/ or look for the Devon Bus Tracker app in the App Store. It’s hoped that contactless payment will be available at some time in the future. As for the bus itself, Devon achieved almost 100% coverage of low-floor accessible buses long before the law required it. These modern buses are far easier to board for people with disabilities, parents with buggies or passengers with heavy shopping or luggage.
Unfortunately, even with subsidy, many rural routes can’t sustain services in the evening and on Sundays because there aren’t enough passengers at these times. Bus the 359 offers a choice of travel times on six days a week. The timetable appears in the County Council’s Teignbridge Area Timetable Book, in the on-line e-book - http://www.devonbustimetables.info/teignbridge_new/files/assets/basic-html/index.html#Cover
or see the journey planner on Traveline - http://www.travelinesw.com/
The sub-group are meeting with the management of Countrybus and will be talking to them about how to give the fares greater publicity, what we can do in terms of surveys of bus users and non-users to help understand residents’ views. So look out for notices in a future Parish magazine and in the Post Office.
Suzanne Cosgrave, Hannah Phipps and Martin Sharland
Recycling advice from Devon County Council
What do you do with lids, tops and caps? If you find yourself asking “Are they recyclable?”,“Which bin do they go in?” and “Am I doing it right?” then read on. These common questions now have a simple answer – YES! They are all recyclable! Simplygive the bottle or jar a rinse, squash plastic bottles, put the top back on and recycle as you normally would – even if it’s a metal lid on a glass jar.
Many people still remember the early days of recycling when plastic lids caused a problem due to being a different kind of plastic or being heavily dyed. Thankfully, technology has
improved over the years and we no longer have this problem. Hurrah! In fact, the recycling industry preference is now for lids to remain attached to bottles and jars. Lids and caps are small and light, so attaching them to larger items keeps them contained during the collection and sorting process and prevents them from jamming machinery. It also helps keep plastic bottles squashed, so reduces volume and creates more space in your recycling bin, bag or box and on the recycling collection vehicle. All in all, keeping your top on gets a big thumbs up all round and helps maintain Devon’s 55.7% recycling rate.
So, what happens to plastic bottles with lids? Plastics are shredded, cleaned and passed through a Sink-Float tank which separates different types of plastic by density. HDPE plastic, such as lids and caps, will float whereas PET plastic, such as bottles, will sink. So simple, but very effective! The different plastics are then sold on to manufacturers who turn the plastic shreds into new products, such as garden furniture, fencing, polyester clothing and even new bottles.
And glass jars? Similarly to plastic, glass is crushed and cleaned before it passes through a process to remove any plastic or metal lids and collars. Plastic and metal is recycled into new products and glass is recycled into new bottles and jars.
The Chagford Singers Spring Concert
Faure’s Requiem and Haydn’s Nelson Mass
24th March at 7.30pm
St Michael’s Church, Chagford
Conductor Tim Pithers
Accompanist Shaun Brown
£10 on the door or Sally’s newsagents
For anyone who is interested in what they are doing at the top of six mile hill while the road was closed, here are some photos sent to me by one of my shop customers.
Dusnford 2017 Pantomine: "Beauty and the Beast", written and directed by Ilona Lapka.
Dates for Pantomime this year are Saturday 7th January to Saturday 14th January 2017.
The evening performances will start at 7.45 and on each of the Saturdays there will also be a Matinee performance starting at 2.30.
The story is based on the original 1740 French fairytale with a hint of the modern Disney and more than a pinch of the writers own imagination!
Tickets will be available from 1st December priced at £5 and £6 from our Box office
Birthday Party for the Queen, 23rd April 2016
Thank you to everyone who attended a very successful Birthday Party for the Queen. It was enjoyed by over 70 people on saturday 23rd April. And a big thank you to all those who helped to plan it and worked hard on the day to make it all happen.
Everyone was very generous with donations and the raffle and we made £100 profit on the day. Please let Karen know in the shop if you have any ideas for what to spend it on. Two ideas are to start the fund for the defibrulator or towards planting for the village centre.
90th Birthday Party For the Queen
Dunsford Village Hall
Saturday 23rd April 2.30pm