If there is to be a congestion charge of £50 per day for buses, then I suggest that they should also make sure said buses are actually running in the city centre.
The state of some First’s buses, on the 75/76 bus route to Shiregreen, is shocking. Today I was on one with the seat covers in an appallingly filthy state, it rattled like a tin can and you could smell fumes on the top deck, and the damned thing looked like it had been in service since the beginning of time. It’s only Tuesday and my wife has left work and reached Arundel gate to catch a 75 or 76 at 5.30pm and it’s not shown up on either Monday or Tuesday. It’s a regular thing, including during the daytime when buses are continually missing on the Shiregreen estate. The 76 covers the estate in a clockwise direction, and the 75 in a anticlockwise direction, so there is a bus about every six minutes. Time after time there seems to be 75 buses missing over and over, while on another day it’s the 76 buses that are missing. Some buses arrive at Arundel Gate with the destination as, “Not in Service”, and the next couple of buses can sail past the stop too for the same reason. That leaves people stuck in town waiting 30 minutes for a bus. Why? I’ve been on buses that have terminated at Firth Park and passengers find themselves unexpectedly being turfed off the buses and told to wait for the next one. These buses are supposed to be the Shiregreen circular, but they never reach Shiregreen. Either there are serious traffic problems somewhere on the routes, First have either a shortage of buses or drivers, or First are deliberately removing the buses, particularly at off peak periods, to save on money.
Can you imagine what’s going to happen when the congestion charges come in? Someone will have to pay the daily bill, and it will be the passengers who pay as fares will rise. The service on our route is a farce, so imagine what it will be like if First start pulling buses out of service so they can save £50 for every bus pulled. With these additional costs it seems unlikely that First will be spending money on updating their fleet so we will have to endure more of their ram shackled buses. If services get worse, fares go up, and the buses are uncomfortable and unclean, I can see First reducing a number of their buses from entering the city centre and that will have an effect on the shops as footfall drops. I can see shop prices rising as the lorries that bring goods into the city centre also try to recoup their charges from the store holders, who will in turn put up their prices to pay the extra money the haulage companies are charging them. There could be more to pay on the buses, and more to pay in the shops. Typically, it’s likely to be the public that foot the bill.
Is this really about pollution, or is it a money making plan for the Council? Based on the 75/76 route at present, with its lack of buses they could be sorely disappointed.