Public Meetings convened by Reading East MP Matt Rodda in recent weeks have enabled bus service users to have a wider public debate on the implications of Reading Buses' draft proposals to change some of the town's pink bus routes. The routes serving areas north of the river were to be radically changed and, in some instances, axed altogether.
Revised proposals from Reading Buses now include the retention of the pink 23 and 24 routes between Caversham Park and Emmer Green. These routes will be converted into 'loops' on an anti-clockwise and clockwise basis in order to maintain access to key areas such as schools and other vital roads.
A link to the Royal Berkshire Hospital is also promised, with an hourly connection running on Monday to Saturday by the merging of the 19 service which operates to and from Lower Earley to an extended part of the 22 route.
Reading Buses hope to register the new proposals with the Traffic Commissioner shortly, with a view to rolling out the revised routes by mid-February 2018.
Referring to the consultation period which ended recently, Reading Buses CEO Martijn Gilbert said:
“Just over 600 responses were received, as well as feedback directed through local residents’ and a ‘Concerned of Caversham’ group as well as two well-attended public meetings facilitated by Matt Rodda MP. We have carefully considered the continuing declining use of much of the Caversham network.”
“Regrettably, and as we have been clear from the start of this process, there will still be some areas where we can't please everyone. However the impact of this will now be isolated to Caversham Heights which remains the largest loss-making area on the network, despite previous attempts over the years to invest in and grow bus use in this area.
I am hopeful that this blend of savings and new growth initiatives will move us towards a more sustainable position for the longer term that still meets the main travelling needs of the area.”
MP Matt Rodda said:
"I am pleased Reading Buses has listened to residents' concerns about their much loved bus services, and that the routes in Caversham and Emmer Green are not being altered. I also welcome the extension of the 22 bus route directly to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, which is a significant step forward.”
“However, there will be some reduction in the frequency of services on the 22 route, and I want to work with the bus company, residents, community groups and councillors to promote bus use and try to increase services in the future.”