The 35 bus carries mostly older people to do their shopping, to visit friends, the doctors or the hospital and similar trips – during the middle of the day. But back in July this was due to end.
Since June we’ve been fighting the keep the service running – and to publicise it. This was basically the problem. It’s a decent service, but it’s not been marketed and therefore shrunk to a middle-of-the-day service only. And when the bus company, Notts and Derby, saw how little it was taking, they decided to cut it.
Local people were up in arms. I was phoned by a regular user, and we started exploring how the bus could be saved. Around £60 per day extra was needed. But who would pay and who would hold the money?
The cash strapped council made it clear their answer was ‘no’ to subsidising it. But local people were keen to keep it, and many were willing to pay, either because they wanted to use it, or simply because they understand the value of buses. Taxis would cost far more.
This bus goes past Tesco, Iceland, the Co-op, Aldi and into town. People use it to reach at least five doctors’ surgeries, a dentists’ and the Royal Derby Hospital – the major hospital for miles around. It’s the only link between two suburbs, Littleover and Mickleover and nearly links to a third, Heatherton. What it needs is marketing.
And marketing we did. We produced paper timetables, put posters up on bus shelters, added timetables to timetable cases, and published a cut-out-and-keep timetable in Focus door-to-door newsletters. We took timetables round those destinations, and handed them out to interested people when door-knocking for donations.
Meanwhile we persuaded the Council to hold the funds to pay for the service, raising over £1000 in under 24 hours to save it initially. Since then a further £1000 has come from the local community, but more is needed.
The numbers of passengers started to rise, but when it’s too hand-to-mouth, people don’t have the confidence that the bus will still be running to stand outside and wait for it. We need to have more security.
Meanwhile Derby is one of the city’s which must improve its air quality – and buses should be part of that solution. Two thirds of people we survey regularly agree that the Council should do more to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
Many people in Heatherton would be happy to use a middle-of-the-day service to Mickleover and the Hospital. So it’d be good to amend the route to include them – if only the bus were to be running for long enough to make it worthwhile.
So we need more money. If you could help, then you can pay into the fund being held by the Council using www.derby.gov.uk/pay-it and search for 35 – to find the right account. Add your details and we’ll try to keep in touch (though getting this info out of the Council is interesting due to GDPR!).
At a public meeting on Thursday 6th September, it was agreed to set up a support group for the bus for the long term. And a generous donor is putting forward up to £1000 to match other donations over the next 10 days.
So anything you give till the 16th September will be doubled (up to that £1000 target). Many thanks!