Bus service lets Exeter down

Dear Editor,

Being a "frequent flyer" to and from Exeter International Airport, I have become increasingly ashamed of the poor bus service afforded to visitors new to the City of Exeter, and would like to voice my concerns through your Points Of View page.

On leaving the arrivals hall at Exeter Airport, visitors who wish to travel into the city centre, or onward for connections to Exeter St Davids train station can easily spot the bus stop for this service. However, despite the rather grandiose sign which advertises a "shuttle/transfer" service (which in itself can easily be interpreted as a dedicated and complimentary service), this service is a complete embarrassment to the City. Aside from anything else, the bus stop itself is situated in an area where no vehicles except the emergency services can access, due to security restrictions.

On my return from Paris yesterday, I noticed a lot of people waiting for the bus into Exeter, and many were voicing disappointment with the frequency of the service (typically every hour). The bus timetables are extremely confusing, and the only "regular" weekday service is the 56A, which in fact is just another country service to and from Exmouth. This service bizarrely also services the entire Met Office workforce who like to travel by bus and so help the environment! Not that I have every seen anyone board at the Met Office on this strange and frankly unnecessary detour. Sundays are catered for by the 379 Sidmouth and Honiton service, which again run every hour (if you are lucky).

One might have assumed that in line with other cities such as Bristol, the "shuttle service" might run every 20 minutes and provide passengers with somewhere to put their luggage; not so in Exeter. The bus we all eventually boarded yesterday arrived 30 minutes late due to a road closure, and was already quite full. The only place for passengers to put their luggage, was a on the floor, but of course the floor space was already taken up with passengers, so it was very uncomfortable for all concerned.

As if it were not bad enough to be waiting for 90 minutes for a bus that was overcrowded, the bus also had it's heating system turned on, on what was already a very warm day! This has happened quite a lot on Stagecoach services recently, but the bus drivers simply say that they can't do anything about it, as it's a problem beyond their control. Maybe this is where Stagecoach are losing money, rather than their lame claims of losing it because of "concessionary fares", but I digress….

If Exeter wants to impress it's visitors, and Exeter Airport continues to press for expansion, perhaps the council should step in and offer visitors a service commensurate with the historic and cultural delights that they continually seek to promote.

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Fascist State

On taking on the job, hapless Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated "All decisions that we make will have to be built from an understanding of grassroots opinion. People will be more engaged in decision making" (Quoted from a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday 24th June 2007).

It seems to me that now more than at any other time the British people are simply told what to do, and put up with it. I just hope that the students present take heed of his wise words. From what I see of much of todays youth, they are far more interested in getting on Big Brother or The X Factor than worrying about how their freedoms are being gradually eroded through what is fast becoming a fascist regime.

I blame this primarily on the fact that many (but not all) of todays youth have nevered wanted for much. Having left full-time education in 1978, a year before the dreaded Thatcher took office, I soon learned to take more than a passing interest in politics. I can remember the days when myself and many others of the same age (and younger) were taking direct action against the dreaded Poll Tax by standing up for (and singing about) what we believed in. Of course, there were always those who sought fame amongst us, but thankfully the songs myself and others were singing in the pubs and clubs up and down the country was highly unlikely to impress the likes of Pete Waterman and Simon Cowell.

To this end, I propose that what Britain needs today is a musical revolution, as in the words of a not so famous punk icon, "governments alone can't cause such distress without the people who let them get away with it". At risk of upsetting many of your younger readers, no I'm not suggesting that watered down junk such as Coldplay suddenly start wearing bondage trousers, but rather that the youth of today get off their lazy backsides and start writing lyrics that actually mean something.

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Stagecoach Lies Again

Stagecoach say that free travel for pensioners is costing them money (Letters 11th July 2008).

This is patently untrue, and I challenge stagecoach supremo's Anne Gloag and Brian Souter to prove it to be the case. As pensioners will be aware, Stagecoach charges single fares for all "free" fares provided to those entitled to free travel; return fares, which are often not much more than a single are not permitted.

I know from your letters column that I am not the only one in Exeter who feels that the service they provide (much of which is of course funded by Council Tax payers by way of subsidy on their "unprofitable" routes) is absolutely shocking and overpriced. So, stand up Stagecoach and give us the facts about how much money you are losing as a result of the free travel scheme. Maybe when the truth is revealed many Stagecoach drivers will stop treating those using a free travel pass as lepers and second class citizens, as is sadly often the case at the moment.

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