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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Community Liaison Committee: 28th January 2014

 

Report of the Director of Development Services

 

Greenlinks Community Transport Service

 

Purpose of the Report

1.      To update Committee on the Greenlinks Community Transport Service and to advise Committee of the Council's new Greenlinks Community Transport service G1 which aims to provide demand responsive transport to those who are unable or do not have access to public transport between Llantwit Major, Cowbridge, Bridgend town centre and the rural villages.

Recommendation

1.         That the report is noted.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.         To update Committee on the current Greenlinks Bus Service operations and to promote the new G1 bus service.

Background

2.         The Greenlinks Community Transport Service currently operates three vehicles: a 13 seater accessible bus, a seven seater VW Sharan donated by NPower in January 2011 and a 9 seater accessible bus funded via a South East Wales regional transport services grant.  Both buses have been used to deliver local bus routes on both fixed and flexible routes and are generally driven by volunteers although the Service also has a paid driver who is used when the volunteers are not available.

3.         The Service is generally operated between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.  It provides a door to door service for passengers who have requested transport by 12 noon the day before travel.  The requests are considered by officers and the schedules for the vehicles are drawn up the day before travel to accommodate the most passenger requests.  Passengers are subsequently called in the afternoon before travel and are advised of their journey travel times.  Not all requests can be accommodated all of the time. The vehicles generally carry 2 or 3 people at any one time.

4.         The two buses are also available for group bookings during the evenings and weekends.

5.         Greenlinks currently has approximately 976 members, 62 group members and provides on average 600 - 650 passenger journeys a month.

6.         On Thursdays, Greenlinks operates a G4 bus service which provides transport from Coastal towns and villages between Llantwit Major and Rhoose to Culverhouse Cross, Heath Hospital and central Cardiff. This service is delivered using a Section 22 permit against a guideline timetable and regularly carries 8 or 9 people on either the 9 or 13 seater bus.  The service is delivered as a flexible service and passengers must call in advance, (by 12 noon the day before travel), to request a seat on the bus.

7.         The G4 bus service is delivered under the Section 22 permit and is able to accept concessionary (free) bus passes.  Greenlinks is a member of the Concessionary Fare schemes of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff Council and Bridgend Council.  Greenlinks receives financial reimbursement for the use of concessionary passes from these Councils on a quarterly basis.

8.         The Greenlinks service has previously piloted two fixed route services.  On a Monday, Bus Service G1 ran from Llantwit Major to Bridgend via Wick, St Brides Major, Ewenny and Corntown.  Bus Service G7 ran on Sundays during the summer months from Cowbridge to Nash Point via Llantwit Major and Colhuw beach.  Both of these services operated on a set timetable and they were open to the general public.   Requesting a seat on the bus in advance was not required on these services.  Disappointingly, these services were poorly used.   The volunteer drivers found the experience demoralising as they were often driving around with an empty bus.  Therefore the Monday Bus Service G1 was terminated in August 2013 and the Summer Sunday Bus Service finished in September 2013.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.         Over the last year Committee will be aware that a number of bus operators, both supported and commercial, have either reduced or cancelled bus services causing difficulties, in particular for residents of the rural Vale to access public transport.  These cancellations are in the main due to the reduction of grants available to bus operators (i.e. fuel duty rebate grant) thus making some rural services unviable to operate.  For example, the Village Bus Group of Services catered for most of the rural Vale but the Operator decided to cease running it in July 2013.  The E11 commercial bus service operated from Cowbridge to Talbot Green but again the Operator decided to cease running it in September 2013.  In addition commercial bus services have also been reduced recently in and around Barry.

10.      To part compensate for the loss of the Village Bus Group of Services, on 24th November 2013, the Council's Cabinet approved the introduction of a flexible bus service in the Western Vale for a trial period of up to 4 months between Llantwit Major, Cowbridge, Bridgend Town Centre and the surrounding rural villages.  This G1 Bus Service started operating on 20th January 2014 between 8:15am and 6:15pm and the leaflet advertising the Service is attached at Appendix A.  Copies of the leaflet promoting the Service will also be available at the Committee meeting.

11.      All passengers who wish to use this new G1 Bus Service have to call in advance to request a seat on the bus. If no one requests a seat on the Bus Service, it will not run.  Passengers will be advised of their bus pick up times from agreed locations one working day prior to travel.  Requests must be received by 12 noon at least one working day before transport is required.  For example, if requests are received for the bus on a particular day to pick up from Llantwit Major (to go to Bridgend) and from Llandow (to go to Cowbridge), the bus would run with 2 people on it and go from Llantwit Major to Llandow to Cowbridge on to Bridgend.  If no one requests the bus on a particular day it would not run.

12.      The Council has also recently received £36,900 grant funding from Sewta for the purchase of a fourth vehicle and for the replacement of the car.  Match funding is from Regional Transport Services Grant (RTSG) and from the Council's established transport budgets.  Both vehicles will be delivered in March 2014 and will be used to further develop the services Greenlinks operates.

13.      Committee are also asked to note that on the 27th January, Cabinet will receive a report on future funding mechanisms for the Greenlinks service and for public transport services generally.  A copy of that report is available on the Council's website.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.      The cost of delivering the Greenlinks service for next financial year is approximately £128,154.

15.      The cost breakdown includes the employment of a full time Co-ordinator, an administrator and two part time (4-days a week) drivers and a small cost for out of pocket expenses for volunteer drivers.  The remainder of the cost will be the running cost of fuelling and maintaining the vehicles.  The cost does not allow for the depreciation cost of the vehicles.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

16.      The provision of flexible bus services will assist in the reduction of unnecessary mileage, and provide a different, more sustainable and viable mode of public/ community transport. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

17.      The running and maintenance of the vehicles used by Greenlinks will continue to comply with legislation as identified in the terms and conditions of the Section 19 and Section 22 permits and VOSA requirements for operating a public vehicle.  This involves daily visual checks on the vehicles completed by drivers ensuring the vehicle is fit for purpose, 6 weekly safety checks, services, and MOT on the vehicles carried out at the Council's Alps Depot.

18.      Any local bus services registered are run in accordance to the paperwork submitted to the Traffic Commissioner under the terms of the Transport Act 1985, until a withdrawal of service notice is issued to the Traffic Commissioner providing 28 days notice.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.       The Greenlinks Services offers mobility accessible vehicles and some of its services offer a door to door service meaning that residents can travel easily regardless of any mobility impairments.

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.      The provision of reliable and efficient public transport services provides alternative means of travel to the car, and ensures good accessibility for those without access to private transport.  This links with the Council's objectives for social wellbeing and tackling disadvantages.

Policy Framework and Budget

22.      This report is a matter for noting.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.      As the report is relevant to all wards within the Vale of Glamorgan no consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

Economy & Environment

Background Papers

Appendix A - Service G1 leaflet

 

Contact Officer

Emma Reed Tel:  01446 704673

 

Officers Consulted

None

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services.