Yet again bus passengers, including the elderly and disabled, were pushed out of Marlborough High Street on Saturday. This was because a request had been made to Wiltshire Council to re-route the buses on the busiest day of the Jazz Festival. This meant that passengers had to walk to a bus stop on London Road, almost half a mile away.
By 11am on Saturday, some passengers were still sitting on the benches outside Lloyds Bank unaware of the changes, as the yellow warning sign had been posted several feet away.
Festival Officials told me that they had no idea where the London Road bus stop was! When I questioned Jazz Festival organisers, I was told that temporary relocation of the bus stop was not an issue because ‘no one has complained’, so I went to find out for myself.
When I got to the bus stop in question there were about a dozen people waiting, most of them elderly and one woman was confined to a wheel chair. These people were clearly unhappy and complained bitterly at having to walk the extra distance, particularly the carer who had had to push the wheelchair so far. ‘Why does this happen every year?’ they asked…
Last year Wiltshire Council’s Bus Network Manager made two remarkable offers at a meeting with Transition Marlborough, at the Town Council Offices:
1. In order to retain a normal bus service in the High Street during the Jazz Festival (and the MOP Fairs) Wiltshire Council would provide marshals to ensure public safety.
2. In order to enable fans to use public transport to get to and from the Jazz Festival, Wiltshire Council would provide a late night bus to link with the last train from Bedwyn station to London Paddington, on Saturday night.
The Town Clerk relayed this important information to all the Town Councillors in March last year. It appears that, so far, no-one has bothered to get in touch with Wiltshire Council’s Bus Network Manager to take up these generous offers – in fact last week the Bus Network Manager confirmed to me that because no-one had spoken to him they had assumed that our councillors did not want to take up on their suggestions.
It seems that bus passengers are regarded as second class citizens by some of our councillors.