Ways to Improve Our Village Bus Service? Parish Council To Hold Talks

Hambledon Parish Council is to hold talks with Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council to press for a review of the way the village bus service operates in the hope it can be made more commercially viable.

Suggestions from villagers would be welcome, either by leaving a website comment on this article or posting suggestions in the Forum section.

The 503 route, which is the only public transport service available to residents, connects the village with Milford, Godalming and Guildford and is especially important to the elderly and infirm wanting to visit shops, banks and surgeries. It is shown here in the picturesque setting of the farm buildings at the Hydestile Crossroads as its leaves the village headed for Milford.

Village bus 5 503 Sept 2012 1 - Copy

It is operated by Stagecoach but is heavily subsidised by Surrey County Council. Recently it faced the axe, only to be reprieved after the parish council and residents lobbied for it to continue.

The council is keen to see if changes can be made to increase revenue and prevent another cost-cutting exercise threatening its existence the next time SCC reviews its subsidised bus operations.

Currently the 503 operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, twice in each direction, beginning at Lane End at 9.15 and 12.15. Although a vital service for older residents its timing and infrequency means it is of no use to school children or commuters, despite its route taking it past Milford Station and local schools.

Surrey County Council has indicated that it is prepared to discuss the route with the parish council and others and it is hoped this will happen soon.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Surrey County Council Confirms 503 Bus Reprieve

Surrey County councillors have formally endorsed the recommendation not to withdraw the 503 bus service.

At a meeting of its Cabinet on Tuesday (May 24th) members approved the recommendations arising out of the council’s Local Transport Review, which originally proposed scrapping the 503, Hambledon’s only public transport service.

503 bus under threat again, January 2016 (2)

After public consultation and a campaign by Hambledon Parish Council and supported by residents, the review recommended retaining the 503, which operates three times a week, twice in each direction, and connects Hambledon and Hydestile with banks, surgeries and shops in Milford, Godalming and beyond. The 523 Godalming to Milford Hospital service has also been reprieved.

Both services are operated by Stagecoach but subsidised by Surrey County Council. SCC has been looking to make savings on the money it pays in support of rural bus services and the review has achieved this aim without necessitating the withdrawal of the 503 and 523.

There may be some alterations to the service, subject to further discussion (see earlier news item).

In the meantime the current timetable can be found on this website under the “Home” page link and then clicking on “Travel Info”.

facebooktwittermail

Hambledon’s 503 bus reprieved

Hambledon’s only bus service, the 503, is set to be reprieved by Surrey County Council, reversing a decision to scrap the route as a cost-cutting measure.

This is a victory for the campaign mounted by Hambledon Parish Council and local residents to save the service.

Following the SCC Local Transport Review earlier this year, aimed at finding savings on council-subsidised rural routes, the 503 was one of a number of services to be scrapped, subject to public consultation.

The parish council vociferously opposed the proposal and many villagers raised objections during the consultation process.  SCC has listened, and at a meeting of its Cabinet on May 24th, members are expected to endorse the review team’s recommendation that the 503 continue.

The parish council argued that it was wrong to withdraw the only bus route serving the village, leaving residents without any public transport. The 503 is a lifeline for a number of elderly or infirm residents who rely on the bus to get to shops, supermarkets, banks and surgeries in Milford, Godalming and beyond.

village bus

Agenda documents for the May 24th meeting, available on the Surrey County Council website, state that the council recognises “the important role that bus services play for our residents”, adding: “To address some of the concerns expressed during the public consultation exercise it has proven possible to recommend some enhancements to the original proposals.”

These include reversing the decision to scrap the 503. The 523 Milford hospital service from Godalming has also been reprieved.

Currently the 503 operates on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, twice in each direction, beginning and ending at Lane End. The recommendation is for the service to continue on at least Wednesdays and Fridays and possibly on another day to be determined.

The parish council has asked to meet with SCC planners to discuss ways of increasing passenger numbers, perhaps re-routing the service to take in new areas of development. In the documents the council states that it is “working to stimulate patronage on bus services and reduce the need for council funding.”

The 503 is operated by Stagecoach but subsidised by Surrey County Council. The transport review examined services across the county. Faced with cuts in Central Government funding, SCC is looking save £2 million on its transport budget by next year.

The recommendation to be voted on on May 24th will enable SCC to achieve the required savings needed from the review, documents state.

 

 

facebooktwittermail

Parish Assembly – Ideas for new Parish Plan

The annual Parish Assembly, held on Thursday evening at the village hall, was well attended and produced a number of ideas to be included in the proposed new Parish Plan.

The Parish Plan is a formal document taken into account by public authorities such as Waverley Borough Council when considering issues that involve Hambledon, especially planning and highways. It is also a point of reference for Hambledon Parish Council in its work to help fulfill the aims and ambitions of village residents.

Following a report of the parish council’s activities over the past year as well as those of various village organisations, the assembly heard ideas from residents on what they would like to be included in the new Parish Plan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

High on the list was a request, led by Hambletots, for a small play area for children, ideally somewhere close to the village shop.  This idea had a lot of support.  It was pointed out that play equipment need not be made of intrusive coloured plastics and could be made of wood to suit the rural environment of the shop, pond and cricket green.

Other suggestions included improved drainage for the cricket pitch, a public toilet for the use of visitors to the shop and its cafe and provision of a bike rack, as the shop is regularly used by cyclists. On the issue of cycling, it was pointed out that the village was on the route of many organised cycle events. The poor state of road edges presented a danger. It was suggested that, given the number of events, maybe external funding could be found to carry out improvements.

There was also support for the retention of the 503 bus service, currently under threat (see earlier news items) and concern that car parks at the two nearest railway stations, Witley and Milford, were now at capacity. It was recognised that any new development at the Dunsfold Aerodrome site would only add to the problem, along with associated traffic problems on the narrow, rural village roads.

The Parish Council is currently gathering ideas for the new Parish Plan. It is likely that a steering group made up of councillors and villagers will be established to take the plan forward.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the annual village clean-up, this year tied in with Clean For The Queen in recognition of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. Villagers are asked to gather any litter and bring it to a collection point at the shop where, starting at around midday, a free barbecue will be held for volunteer litter pickers.

 Village clean-up 2011 4

In the afternoon a jumble sale will be held at the Village Hall to raise funds for its maintenance.

 

 

 

facebooktwittermail

THE 503 BUS – WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The fate of Hambledon’s only bus service, the 503, will be decided by Surrey County Council in May and, unless the proposal to axe the route is overturned, it will cease operating in September.

However, SCC has acknowledged the strong opposition to the proposal by Hambledon Parish Council and residents and indicated that it may be prepared to meet to see if there is an alternative to outright closure. The parish has suggested that the 503 could be merged with the 523 Milford Hospital service, which is also under threat, and rerouted to take in new housing developments.

In its latest Local Transport Review SCC – faced with having to make budget cuts -has been examining rural routes in West Surrey with the aim of reducing the level of subsidy it pays to operators to keep the services running.  Under this review it proposed scrapping the 503, which runs three days a week and connects Hambledon with Milford, Godalming and Guildford.

The 503 is important to the village and its immediate neighbourhood, and especially to some of its older residents and those without cars. Starting and ending at Lane End it connects Hambledon and Hydestile with supermarkets, banks and surgeries. Most of its users have bus passes but face losing the only bus they can travel on.

Village Bus 3 - Copy

Under the review SCC is also proposing scrapping the 523, which operates twice a week to Milford Hospital from Godalming via Busbridge.  Both services are operated by Stagecoach on behalf of the County Council, using low-floor buses suitable for the elderly and infirm.

SCC has been consulting on the proposed changes to these and other services. In its submission Hambledon Parish Council urged the county to keep the 503. It also suggested that the 503 and 523 could be merged to serve the new 100-plus homes being built beside Milford Hospital, other areas of new development and be re-timetabled to make it more widely available.

facebooktwittermail

MORE HOMES…NO BUSES?

new bus stops 003 - Copy

Hambledon residents have until this weekend to write in support of the village’s threatened bus service, the 503. The consultation period ends on Monday (March 14th) at 9am.

Surrey County Council, which subsidises the 503 and other rural bus routes, wants to hear the views of villagers before making a final decision on the fate of the service. It is reviewing all bus routes in the county as it looks to make cuts to its budget.

Details of the Local Transport Review can be found at https://www.surreysays.co.uk/e-i-directorate-programme-group/ltr

Hambledon Parish Council strongly opposes the proposal to axe the 503. It is asking Surrey County Council to reconsider the issue and perhaps look to amalgamate the service with the 523 Milford Hospital service, which is also under threat. With more than 100 new homes being built beside the hospital, and a proposal to build affordable homes at Lane End, Hambledon, the council believes Surrey County Council should examine how to better integrate the service before making a final decision.

Here is Hambledon Parish Council’s submission to the Surrey County Council review.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

HAVE YOUR SAY ON HAMBLEDON’S THREATENED BUS SERVICE

Surrey County Council has arranged a public walk-in session in Godalming to discuss the proposed changes to local bus services, including its intention to axe the 503, Hambledon’s only bus service.

It will take place next Friday (February 26) at the Crown Court car park where representatives of SCC and the operators Stagecoach will be in attendance on a bus. Residents can drop in at anytime between 10 am and 12 noon to discuss the proposed changes and to express their views.

SCC, faced with budget cuts, is looking to further reduce the subsidy it pays to bus operators to keep rural routes operating.  Some areas will see alterations or reductions but Hambledon will be hit hard because it is proposed to withdraw the 503 altogether.

A final decision will be made after the current period of consultation ends on March 14.  Hambledon Parish Council is opposing the scrapping of the 503, which it regards as a vital link for many, especially the elderly, to reach shops, banks and surgeries.

Residents who wish the service to continue are urged to make their views known. They can do so online at www.surreycc.gov.uk/transportreview or by phoning 0300 200 1003 to request a copy of the questionnaire to be sent to their home. Copies can also be obtained from libraries and council offices.

  • If you know of someone who will be affected by the withdrawal of the 503 who is unlikely to read this online story, please contact them and pass on details of the drop-in session and the public consultation.

scan0012

facebooktwittermail

Hambledon 503 Bus service under threat… again

Surrey County Council is proposing to axe the 503, Hambledon’s only bus service.

Having won a reprieve in 2012, once again the county council is making further spending cuts including the subsidy that keeps the 503 operating.

This time the village faces a big battle to keep its bus, even though the need for the service remains as great as ever.

If you want to comment on the proposal then please complete the Surrey Council questionnaire online at www.surreycc.gov.uk/transportreview or fill in a paper version available in libraries and local council offices.  Or you can request a copy in the post by calling 0300 200 1003. The deadline is Monday March 14.

SCC will then consider responses to the consultation and final proposals will be debated on May 24. The outcome will be announced in June and changes will come into effect in September.

If you care about the future of Hambledon’s bus, which provides the only public service link to shops/banks/surgeries in Milford, Godalming and Guildford then please take part in the consultation. SCC is suggesting the bus could be replaced by a dial-a-ride service.

001 - Copy

Many older residents in the village rely on the 503, which currently operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, twice in each direction.

A handful of residents join the bus in Hambledon and others board as it stops the in Manor Fields and Chapel Lane estates in Milford.

Because of its importance to these passengers, the Stagecoach-operated service is subsidised by Surrey County Council to keep it running. But continuing cuts in funding to local authorities by Central Government are taking their toll.

And this at a time when the need for public transport, and the energy and environmental savings it brings, could not be more important.

Additionally, an affordable housing development at Orchard Farm is currently under consideration. The 503 starts on its doorstep at Lane End. The bus also travels close to the new 100-homes development off Tuesley Lane. Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Guildford Park and Ride Consultation

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 10.18.50Hambledon residents who use concessionary passes to travel free on the Park and Ride service when visiting Guildford may like to know that there is a proposal to start charging a £1 return fare.

Surrey County Council which operates the service is inviting comments on the proposed changes as part of a consultation process. This ends on September 1.

The proposal will only affect passengers who use an older or disabled persons concessionary pass.

The council has put out the following statement: “Surrey County Council is under enormous financial pressure, due to reduced government funding and extra demand for vital services. This has meant the council has had to review all the services it provides for its residents.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Village Bus Service – Safe For Now

The 503 bus service, which connects Hambledon with Milford, Godalming and Guildford is safe – for the time being at least.

Earlier this year Surrey County Council conducted a wide-ranging review of the routes it subsidises, many of them in rural areas. Hambledon Parish Council and many of its residents responded to this, stressing how important the 503 is to the village.

SCC is now proposing specific reductions and cuts to some services in the county, beginning with routes operated by Abellio, Arriva and Metrobus companies. These changes are now being consulted on, with SCC due to make a final decision on June 23 and the revised services coming into affect on August 29.

None of these services are in the Waverley Borough Council area. Our turn will come.

If you want to see details of the current proposals, or comment on them, please click the following link:

https://www.surreysays.co.uk/e-i-directorate-programme-group/closed-copy-of-ltr

village busOver the next two years Surrey CC will look at other bus operators as their contracts come up for renewal, including Stagecoach which operates many of the services in the Waverley area, including the 503.  Further localised consultation is expected and proposals for cuts and/or reductions are likely to follow.

Surrey CC is looking to reduce the £8.9 million it spends each year subsidising bus services.

The 503 is Hambledon’s only public transport service, operating twice in each direction on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It provides a vital link for those without cars, often the elderly or infirm, to reach supermarket, banks and surgeries.

Hambledon Parish Council will continue to press for the retention of the 503 and will make sure that residents are aware of any future public consultation.

facebooktwittermail

Bus Review – What Parish Is Doing To Keep The 503

The consultation period for Surrey County Council’s Local Transport Review has ended and the authority is now considering the future of subsidised rural bus routes, including the 503 Hambledon service.

Details of the review process can be found here – https://www.surreysays.co.uk/e-i-directorate-programme-group/closed-copy-of-ltr

As part of the consultation Hambledon Parish Council made a submission in support of retaining the village’s only bus service, which is operated by Stagecoach but subsidised by SCC. Here is what the council said.

alt“Hambledon Parish Council is grateful for the opportunity to comment on the Local Transport Review following the request by Surrey County Council for feedback from stakeholders.

The Parish Council is aware of the pressures faced by SCC with regard to funding and the need to review spending.

However, it urges SCC to ensure that Hambledon’s only bus service, the 503, remains in operation as it is a vital means of transport for a number of our more vulnerable residents, mostly elderly, living alone and without cars. (It also hopes for the retention, as a daily service, of the 71.)

Please consider this: Hambledon is a small rural village. It has a community store, but otherwise no shops, no banks, no supermarkets and no doctor or dentist surgeries. None of the above are within practical walking distance. To access any of these residents must use a car, or the bus.

The 503 only operates three days a week, twice in each direction.  This means it cannot be used by commuters or schoolchildren. So its passenger numbers are inevitably limited and this must be taken into account when assessing its financial viability. Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Press feature local residents

A reporter and photographer from the Haslemere Herald visited Hambledon recently to speak to residents who regularly use the 503 bus route.

The newspaper carried an article about the re-vamped service, which had been under threat, and published a photograph of villagers at the newly-erected bus stop sign at the Village Hall. The photograph is reproduced below with the kind permission of the Haslemere Herald.

alt

For more details about how villagers and Hambledon Parish Council campaigned to keep the village bus service and subsequent efforts to increase its usage, please see earlier stories on this website.

facebooktwittermail

Bus Stops return to Hambledon Road

Bus stop signs and timetables have been reinstated along the route of Hambledon’s 503 bus service.

Only long-standing residents knew where the village bus stops were located following removal of the post and flags over the years. Earlier this year Hambledon Parish Council requested that the signs be reinstated as part of an initiative to raise the profile of the 503 service that links the village with Milford, Godalming and Guildford.

After a visit by Surrey County Council engineers it was agreed that three posts and flags would be re-erected; outside the Village Hall, beside the Merry Harriers and at the bus shelter at the Hydestile Crossroads (pictured below).

alt

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Hambledon's Bus Service Is Reprieved

altTHE 503 bus service, which links Hambledon with Milford, Godalming and Guildford and which was to have been axed under proposals contained in a cost-saving bus review, has been saved.

The route, operated by Stagecoach but subsided by Surrey County Council, is the village’s only public transport service, and the parish council, supported by residents, mounted a strong defence against the proposal to scrap it

Surrey County Council’s Cabinet met on Tuesday (May 29th) to consider all the proposals contained in the bus review following a consultation exercise earlier this year, including the fate of the 503. It agreed that the service should not only be retained but returned to a three days a week service from its current two. This means that, from September 2nd, the service will once again run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, twice in each direction. Currently it operates on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Continue reading

facebooktwittermail

Threat To Hambledon 503 Bus – Have Your Say

 ImageThe 503 bus which connects Hambledon with Milford, Godalming and Guildford could be scrapped next year.

The twice weekly service, operated by Stagecoach, is subsidised by Surrey County Council. The council is looking to make financial savings and the 503 is one of several rural routes facing the axe.

The county council is currently reviewing its options and details can be found at www.surreycc.gov.uk/busreview If you want to find out more or make a comment on the proposals please visit this website.

You can also make your feelings known at Godalming Library between 10am and 1pm next Tuesday (December 6th) where SCC transport officers are available to discuss the issue.

In addition the parish council is meeting with SCC later on the same day.  It has made details of the proposals available in the village shop and is asking for users of the 503 to make their views known.

If you use the bus please tell the parish council how important it is to you.

As many regular passengers are elderly it is likely they will not read this website. So if you know of someone in Hambledon who is a user of the 503 please draw their attention to the form in the shop, or comment on their behalf.

SCC is considering replacing the bus with an “on-demand” Hoppa-style minibus. More details will appear on the website and in the January edition of the parish magazine.

In the meantime, please make sure your views known to the parish council as well as giving your opinion to Surrey County Council – in person or on-line.

facebooktwittermail

Parish support for "Hoppa" community transport

ImageHambledon Parish Council has agreed a one-off grant of £250 following a request for financial support by Waverley Hoppa Community Transport.

The Hoppa minibuses are a familiar sight on local roads, providing transport for those unable to use scheduled public services. Hoppa’s fleet of vehicles offer accessible, door-to-door community transport for registered local people as well as hospital-related services.

However, Hoppa cannot survive on its revenue alone and requires the additional support of grant funding.

With its fleet of vehicles due for replacement, Hoppa has appealed for financial assistance.

In Hambledon we have a “good neighbour” scheme which can usually help the elderly and infirm keep medical appointments and collect prescriptions. However, our scheduled bus service runs on just three days of the week and is loss-making.

The parish council considered that Hoppa provides a valuable service in rural communities such as ours and would become even more important to Hambledon if the village lost its bus service.

It agreed to provide a grant of £250 to help Hoppa maintain its non-emergency patient hospital service to local health facilities.

If you would like to find out more about Hoppa’s service please click http://www.hoppa.org.uk/

facebooktwittermail