Route of Bluestar No. 9 Bus in Langley
Response from Hampshire County Council, March 2013
Thank you for your letter and enclosed petition received on 18 February 2013 regarding the Bluestar 9 bus route in Langley.
The Bluestar 9 is a commercial bus service and is not financially supported by, or under the control of, the County Council. The change of route late last year was a decision by the bus company based on their knowledge of the service and was duly registered with the Traffic Commissioner, part of the Department for Transport, and the service was approved. Commercial bus services may use any public road as long as they comply with any restrictions regarding access, speed, weight, width or height.
The bus company wished to simplify its services in the area so that they all had a common route as they believe that this is easier to market and is an approach which has worked well in other areas. The disadvantage in this case was that when they combined the approach with a change of route along Kings Ride, the result was that roads which had not previously had a bus service suddenly had over 40 journeys a day from before 6 in the morning until midnight.
As a result of concerns raised by local residents a meeting was arranged with Councillor McEvoy, Mark Keighley, Commercial Manager of Bluestar, and Peter Shelley, Head of Passenger Transport for the County Council, so that the bus company would be fully aware of issues raised by the local community and the options available to address these.
At the meeting Councillor McEvoy set out the concerns of residents but also asked whether it would be possible to retain a reduced service for Kings Ride if most journeys reverted to the former route as this had also been requested by those living locally. Mr Keighley outlined the company position, that they favoured all journeys following a standard route, and that he did not see that it would be possible for some journeys to go one way and some the other. In this context it was agreed to arrange a site meeting at the former terminus at Langley Farm to address any concerns, safety or otherwise, that the bus company might have had regarding returning the service to Lepe Road and terminating at the farm as before.
The meeting at Langley Farm took place at the end of February and included a representative of Cadland Estates as landowner. After some discussion, modest proposals were developed to meet the concerns of the bus company. Bluestar will need to reach agreement with Cadland Estates for a new licence and Mr Keighley agreed to confirm Bluestar intentions in March so that uncertainty would be removed and local concerns addressed.
As this is a commercial service, the route is not under the control of the County Council but is a matter for the bus company. Nonetheless through correspondence and through the meetings detailed above, the bus company is fully aware of the strength of local opinion. In addition, the County Council has moved to ensure that there are no obstacles to the reinstatement of Langley Farm as a terminus so that this is again available to the bus company.
Councillor Melville Kendal
Executive Member for Environment and Transport