|Bus connections to Melksham from Chippenham
From 17th September, it looks like Melksham will have some morning buses to Chippenham that call at the station there, and later afternoon and evening buses back direct from Chippenham station.
I've long advocated improved rail / bus connections, and I've long lamented the absurdity of the 234 bus service to Chippenham going to the bus station at the top of the town without calling at the railway station at the other end of the town. It's made through journeys in the past a nightmare, and it became all the more absurd when the railway station forecourt was remodelled to provide better services there for rail/bus interchange.
"Three cheers" you might expect me to say. And indeed, I am cheering - but it's perhaps one or one-and-a-half cheers, not three.
It seems that just 3 buses a day (the LAST one at 09:24 in the morning!) from Melksham will go via the station in Chippenham. What about people who want to leave Melksham after a day's work and who currently catch the 17:02 train (typical loading - around 30 people)? And what about those people who arrive in to Melksham at 09:11 in the morning? The first bus from Chippenham station doesn't get in until half past four.
You would think, wouldn't you, that with just three services on offer by road, and two by train, that there was scope for spacing them out ... well - there's a train at 07:17 and a bus at 07:22. Hmm - at least that means that if the train (and remember, our trains have a truely drreadful cancellation record) is cancelled, First can easily tell the bus driver to go via Melksham station. Is this by accident or design? I don't know, but I can tell you that I'm very impressed by how First coordinate things.
What's needed is a regular, connecting service. It's what I've advocated for trains, and buses. The buses DO run a regular timing from Melksham to Chippenham during the day - but it's a local service with no on-going connection with the trains.
I DO wish the new bus service well; I know that in an evening, it'll make return journeys from London much, much easier and it's a necessary part of a truely needed integrated transport system for the area. Alas, I hope it doesn't turn out to be one isolated part of a jigsaw that we've been given, which would fail to build up into the whole picture we need.
P.S. Did you notice how woolly I am about the timings of the new service? A timetable I was given, by First, a couple of weeks ago showed me a better service that the one that I found on the West Wilts amendment sheet I picked up over the weekend.
Written 2006-08-29 07:12:24
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