Information is leaking out about the latest plans for savage cuts to Woodley and Earley’s public transport. It appears that a public consultation has been hidden on the Reading Buses website since 22nd October with responses due by 4th November.
Phil Challis, Lib Dem Borough Councillor for Loddon, said “I am appalled that Reading Buses have not been more open about these new plans. As Lib Dem councillors in Woodley we hauled James Freeman of Reading Buses into a meeting when the last plans were announced in the summer. It appears that this time they are trying to sneak these plans through without people realising”.
Under the new plans Reading Buses will scrap the No62. This route provides an important service for key parts of Woodley and Earley, providing a service to The Royal Berks Hospital. This is such a necessary route that up until last year it was funded by Wokingham Borough Council. However funding was withdrawn by the Tory controlled council last year and the route handed over to Reading Buses to run as a commercial service.
Phil Challis said “When the Conservatives stopped the funding for the No 62, I was given assurances that Wokingham Borough Council would consider funding it again if Reading Buses made changes to the service. Far from running it is a commercial route Reading Buses now plan to scrap the route altogether and I will be asking the Tory leadership in Wokingham Borough to maintain this socially necessary route”.
Things are no better on the Woodley Airfield development where the 63/64 routes are to be scrapped and replaced by new 65/66/67 routes. This change will see large parts of the airfield without a service during the day. In addition it will not be possible to get from large parts of Woodley to the doctors at the Loddon Vale Practice which will again hit older residents.
Gareth Epps, Lib Dem Parliamentary Campaigner for Reading East said, “This seems to be an extraordinary decision to make. At a time when we should be encouraging people to use public transport, major cuts to bus services are being planned. The underhand way in which these cuts have been presented to the public is to be deplored. We have had a huge response to my bus survey. The results help to show the social and economic necessity of these routes to large parts of Woodley and I will be passing the results onto Reading Buses”.