Our November Newsletter
Unfortunately the prospect of a live meeting seems to be receding ever further into the distance. With ever more stringent restrictions appearing almost daily, and the Council's offices not apparently conforming to the new requirements, it could be a while before we get to meet face to face. Some venues are available but the prospect of trying to hold a discussion for an hour while wearing masks and with the windows open does not appeal!
Stevenage BUG have kindly offered us use of their Zoom facility to hold online meetings. Please let us have your thoughts on this, and whether you would find this useful.
Messages from the Government on bus usage and public transport in general can best be described as mixed. During the initial lockdown we were told not to use public transport and the buses were subsidized to drive around empty. Then we were told to get back on public transport and usage picked up, but to nothing like previous levels. Masks, which were initially deemed of little use, suddenly became highly effective; and compulsory on buses. Bus usage in North Herts now appears to be getting closer to normal, although in certain parts of the country the message to 'avoid public transport' has been reinstated. Thankfully services are continuing to run quite reliably, with subsidies continuing at least for the present.
HCC was awarded monies from central government to restore some of the lost bus services although some of this will now be needed to enable existing HCC routes to continue until the end of the year at least.
The government are funding bus services to the tune of around 220 - 230 million until the end of this month, then have promised to continue indefinitely, albeit with a reduced amount- around one third- after that.
Thanks to my colleague Peter Ellingworth for supplying those figures, if anyone from HCC has any further information we are happy to circulate it.
***** Update received from Guy Brigden HCC 13/10/2020 **************
Happy to attend a virtual meeting but we’re under instructions to use Teams as HCC considers Zoom to be insecure.
Government funding for bus services is indefinite in the sense that there is no end date but it is subject to review and could be withdrawn at, I believe, 8 weeks’ notice. At present the DfT requires all services to return to normal by 4th January unless re-registered at reduced levels but it seems likely that the present emergency arrangements will be extended. An announcement needs to be made soon as we’re approaching the deadline for operators to submit registrations. The extent to which passenger numbers had recovered before the Covid situation deteriorated seems to have been highly variable between different services.
There is separate funding from the DfE for running duplicate journeys for schoolchildren. This is in place until half term and we’re awaiting news as to how this will continue.
I’ll mention while writing that the 15.45 schoolday/16.12 school holiday journey Bishop’s Stortford – Stevenage is going to be running substantially earlier from Monday. Almost all the schools have advanced their finishing times and we’ve had a lot of requests to alter the time of the bus. There is no change to the equivalent journey on Saturdays.
****************************************************update from GB ends******
In my view (DW), and I must stress this is just my personal view, the government has lost the plot somewhat, and seems to have forgotten that there are other causes of death and injury in the UK than Covid, serious though it is.
Yes, Covid cases are rising rapidly, not at the rates implied by some of the ludicrous 'projections' appearing on our TV screens, but there is no denying they are increasing. But are all the responses necessary, or even likely to be effective?
Based on this we are told to avoid public transport, yet some quite reliable statistics (see link below) imply that you are up to eight times as likely to be killed in a car accident than if you take the same journey by bus. To be really Covid-safe and 'green' we are told to go by bike. Compared to a bus you are around one hundred (100) times more likely to be a fatality on a bicycle. Obviously the more crowded the bus, the greater the risk, but does the chance of catching Covid on a sanitised bus, with mask-wearing passengers in North Herts mitigate the additional risk, to others as well as youself, of using a much more dangerous form of transport.?
Source of statistics: Statista - Transportation and Logistics
Last, but by no means least, Marilyn Kirkland has retired from her role as Chair of NHBUG. On behalf of NHBUG members I would like to thank her for her tireless efforts in setting up NHBUG and arranging and chairing meetings over the past eight years, yes it really has been that long!
This does mean that we are really short-handed as far as a committee is concerned. If anyone would like to help, not only with some admin chores like arranging venues or telephoning members who are not online, but also with ideas of how we should move NHBUG forward now and post-Covid. Please get in touch.
Don't forget that information about changes to services is available on the Intalink website
Face Masks must be worn on all buses and public transport.
North Herts Bus User Group
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