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Caversham Consultation update

Our consultation on the future of the pink routes in Caversham has now ended - we would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond and help us build a plan for Caversham buses. We have collated all feedback and are now in a position to outline our final plans for the services.

The consultation process was to address the issues that currently see the combined Caversham network of buses lose a considerable amount of money per year. These buses are in decline in contrast to the rest of our bus network that is in growth. We have supported these loss-making routes as long as we can, but it was clear that action desperately needed to be taken. It has always been our intention to reduce the costs of these services, but also, where possible, promote growth and stability through improved publicity, a refreshed brand and newer, better buses within the existing or planned resource. It was also always designed to start discussions amongst residents and customers to help inform what the future of the services would look like. 

the consultation and outcome

We have attended two public meetings that allowed us to hear concerns from residents face-to-face and we have also received well over 600 individual responses to our call for feedback. The overriding concern seemed to centre around provision for older customers who may rely on our services more than the average bus user, but may not use the service on a regular basis. We listened to this and all other concerns and proposals. 
The outcome of our consultation is to retain the current route structure, to allay concerns about people losing their service. However we still need to make savings and so given opposition to our plans to link some routes using Oakley Road to increase service in this area, we have no choice but to reduce daytime frequencies in Caversham Heights on pink 22 to a level that is financially sustainable given current use. 
This does mean that all Caversham residents will continued to be served with buses operating along all routes, exactly as they are today. 
Despite needing to reduce losses, we remain keen to pursue enhancements where they can be delivered efficiently within existing resource. We have also identified a number of new improvements due to the consultation.

revised plans 

There will be minor revisions to timetables in order to better space the times of buses between Caversham Centre and Central Reading, improve train connections at the Northern Interchange and optimise early morning and late evening journey provision

Caversham Heights - pink 22

Pink 22 is currently the least used service of the Caversham network and so is the service that will see the most changes.
  • Pink 22 will continue to operate every half hour during weekday morning and evening commuting times, but will be reduced to hourly off peak (after 9am) and on Saturdays. Appropriately timed school journeys will be included to recognise that these fall outside the 'peak' times. 
  • The lightly used hourly Sunday service will be withdrawn. Alternative buses will now be available to more users thanks to the negotiation of a new joint ticketing arrangement on the recently relaunched Thames Travel 'River Rapids' X39/40 which serves many stops on the nearby main road. Both Reading Buses return and day tickets will be accepted on this half hourly service (hourly on Sundays) between Reading, Caversham Bridge, St. Peter's Hill, Woodcote Road and Upper Woodcote Road (as far as Shepherd Lane). We will include information on both the River Rapids and Going Forward Buses 142 to provide one source of bus information for all four routes serving the area.
  • Pink 22 will continue to serve Albert Road and The Mount and will additionally be enhanced to offer a much requested through link from Caversham Heights and Caversham Centre to the Royal Berkshire Hospital Monday-Saturday by being combined with route 19 to/from Lower Early. This will operate as a pink 22 throughout. 

Caversham Park/Emmer Green - pink 23 and 24

  • The Caversham Park and Emmer Green loops of routes 23 and 24 will be re-merged into clockwise and anti-clockwise circuits to provide much requested connectivity between the two areas, especially for access to schools and doctor's surgeries. 
  • Both routes will continue to operate with a main 20 minute frequency and serve all stops through to Central Reading. Reading Bridge will continue to be used to provide a fast link from Caversham Park into the Northern Interchange at Reading Station. 

Peppard Common - pink 25

  • Pink 25 will continue unchanged, including using Reading Bridge and similarly providing a fast link to the Northern Interchange at Reading Station.

Lower Caversham - shuttle 27/29

  • The Lower Caversham Shuttle 27/29 will be revised as per the consultation to operate as a two-way loop from Lower Caversham to provide a much requested two-way link to and from Caversham Centre (instead of having to travel around a loop via Central Reading). 

The future of the service

We are currently working on the full detailed timetables for the new year and will make them available at the earliest opportunity. 
Whilst it has been great to see the strength of feeling around the Caversham services, we cannot hide from the fact that these services are in decline and require cost savings and increased customer numbers to secure their long-term future. We ask that all those who have been active in feeding back and wanting us to keep the buses as they are now help us to spread the word about the changes, and support these services by using them! With our new plans seeing a marked reduction in our initial cost saving, only an increase in customers will help secure their long-term future - if everyone who responded to the consultation were to use the bus regularly, this would easily be achieved!