What’s Going On With Derby’s Buses?

November 30, 2015 11:38 AM
By Cllr Eric Ashburner

I, like many other Derby residents, use local buses to get around the city. But recent changes seem to be making this harder for us all.

New bus route numbers are confusing travellers by duplicating numbers in different parts of the city. Many local centres now have poor services - and if this could be improved then both Arriva and passengers would benefit.
And then there's the changes in the city centre. Since Arriva moved buses out of the bus station and onto the stops at Babington Lane, we have ended up with a situation that is appalling. Babington Lane is now often blocked, both on the road and on the pavement.
When buses arrive early they get in each other's way. If they are late, crowds of delayed passengers don't fit on the pavement space available. There's a lack of seating and, heading into winter, a slope that can be treacherous in rain or snow. Do Arriva not understand it sometimes rains in Britain?
Arriva have apparently consulted with bus users, but focussing apparently more on reliability and changes to journey patterns. How much of the passenger feedback was used I can't know. But there does seem to have been much complaint in the press since Derby Liberal Democrats first raised this issue.
We've received more complaints about these changes. The buses aren't just far away from the main Bus Station - they're far away from the popular markets and Cathedral Hall, stuck up a hill many older passengers find harder to walk up and with no nearby facilities.
Now, I know it's easy to find fault and harder to find solutions that work for everyone. And I know that Arriva are listening and trying to improve things. But a quick - even if only temporary - fix is required before the worst winter weather starts, to allow time for a long-term solution.
Derby Liberal Democrats would like an immediate change. Arriva departures could be moved from Babington Lane to The Spot and / or Osmaston Rd. Since Labour decided to spend £1million demolishing picnic area and toilets at The Spot, there is plenty of free space for buses and shelters there. It would be closer to the shopping area at Intu and St. Peter's Quarter with all its facilities, and it's more level. It would still be possible to drop off in Babington Lane if required.
The Council has stated that they are limited in what they can do relating to routes and timing but, when Derby Liberal Democrats ran the council we were able to move bus stops to the benefit of passengers and operators. And we understand that this could be done in days, with emergency changes to registrations, which few are likely to object to. This would improve the service while giving time for a permanent solution. I'd like to see the main Arriva departure point moved to the Bus station or to the Morledge. Both bring buses closer to the markets and Cathedral Quarter. We proposed a similar scheme when we were in power but this was blocked by Conservative opposition.
But that's not all. Reliable, efficient bus services encourage people to leave their cars at home, reducing congestion and helping us all. If Derby Liberal Democrats were running the council again, I'd like to see changes to help them run better for everyone, like bus lanes and bus detector loops at traffic lights.
Then we'd have a transport service that could help all of Derby to grow and be a better place to live and work.