Sunday, 2 November 2014

Council check: Somerset County Council

How easy does Somerset County Council make it to find out about the buses on its patch?

Where do the buses go?

No maps and not even a list of bus services. Appalling. Those in the know will head to Traveline, where you can search for a bus route by location and see an individual route map. 1 out of 5.


The council just sends you over to Traveline, where admittedly you can find timetables for all routes easily. 2 out of 5.


Absolutely no information is provided. There is no multi-operator ticket. Plusbus, available in Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil, is ignored. 0 out of 5.


This is a very poor performance all round. Anyone would think Somerset County Council is trying to put local public transport operators out of business. They are rewarded with a shameful score of 3 out of 15.


  1. It's a disgrace and the council should be entered into the hall of shame-One of the lowest scores I have ever seen since you started doing this weekly excercise on councils up and down the country.

  2. For many years they had also produced and distributed printed information, varying from leaflets to booklets. Initially just for the smaller operators and latterly comprehensive. All of this was stopped a couple of years ago and it is only recently that the web pages have been updated to remove the part saying that leaflets were produced/available.

  3. So what's the solution then, given that trying to impose any sort of legal obligation is obviously a non-starter?

  4. Name and shame, I guess . . . . . I thought that Local Transport Authorities had a statutory obligation to publicise bus and train services, but maybe a simple web page directing passengers to another web site fulfills that obligation.

    I'm with Barry Doe on this one . . . . better to support 99 services and publicise them than support 100 services that no-one knows about!!

    When it comes to cost . . . .a 28 page DL booklet, 10K copies, including compilation, costs less than £2k, and extra copies cost pennies each thereafter. By extrapolation, a 100 page booklet, with 50K copies, would "probably" cost around £50K; for which one can barely procure a market day service carrying 10 people per week. Which might be the better value? Herefordshire manage to produce a very good booklet . . . I'm sure Somerset could also do so if the will was there.

  5. Greeline 727 is almost right. The obligation on local authorities is to ensure that there is adequate information available. They can fulfill this by declaring that the efforts of operators and Traveline are "adequate" as no absolute standard is proscribed.
    As the person once responsible for Herefordshire's booklets (in a past life) I can say that not only were they well-received by the publicbut their publication also ensured that the council's public transport team kept on top of what was happening on the whole network, not just the subsidised bit. They did cost an awful lot of money though and at one time Herefordshire spent more per head on publicity than almost any other county or PTE! I understand they have been able to keep them going now only through grants from the Local Enterprise Partnership - an avenue for others to eplore?

  6. Sounds like the support for bus services - they have the power (which can be switched on and off) but no legal duty (other than for eligible school children) and no definition of any minimum level of service provision!

    So they simply say the information is out there whether its accurate or not and take no account of how easy it is to obtain it.

    One of our local operator currently has no accessible web site (it went down a few months ago) and Arriva simply dump boxes of leaflets at the Council Gateway where no one has a clue as which need changing or throwing away!! KCC appear to have ditched most of the 'real time(not)' displays at the town centre bus stops.

    Ask a councillor if they would prefer budget cuts to be met by withdrawal of a service or cuts in publicity and they will choose the latter and say its up to the industry to publicise itself.

    I wonder how many more Councils will pull out of producing printed publicity etc next year?


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