With Ruddington’s population continuing to grow substantially, largely as a result of significant recent housebuilding on our former Green Belt, you might think there’d actually be the demand for more bus services to and from our busy village?
Yet the cutbacks to NCT’s Navy 3 timetable, and the axing of CT4N’s number 22 and 23 services, tell a different story – one where increasing numbers of residents and village workers are choosing to hop into their cars and drive instead – or even to book a taxi – rather than take advantage of Ruddington’s once excellent public transport links.
The latest casualties are approximately 80 now under-used bus routes funded by Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) which would otherwise be reduced or withdrawn by commercial operators because they are deemed no longer profitable. Thankfully, rather than scrap them altogether, NCC has decided to extend its ‘Nottsbus on Demand’ trial which has already been rolled out on some bus services in North and East Nottinghamshire and to the west of Rushcliffe.
Within the next two years the initiative is now set to be introduced in the rest of Nottinghamshire – including on our Nottsbus Connect 863 Ruddington to Keyworth service. This currently has scheduled buses running return journeys three times a day, six days a week, between the two villages – also providing an important link to Wysall, Willoughy and Widmerpool, as detailed >>HERE<<. Soon, however, this formal timetable is set to be scrapped in favour of ‘DRT’ – Demand Responsive Transport – which is like a less expensive ‘taxi service’; although obviously not as flexible as booking a cab.
NCC explains the decision follows a major post-pandemic review of its bus network. However, the authority promises £5million will still be invested to support, improve and deliver bus services across our county with a clear focus on reconnecting communities and protecting services to boost access to education, health, employment, shopping, and leisure activities. It says these new DRTs, covering areas of Rushcliffe, Gedling, Broxtowe, Ashfield and Newark, will actually give residents more flexibility to travel anywhere between bus stops and designated points within operating zones at a time that is convenient to them. The new DRT services are likely to replace existing scheduled services to ‘maximise efficiencies and improve travel opportunities’. Whilst there are likely to be fewer buses running, none of them should be running ’empty’.
Councillor Neil Clarke, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Nottinghamshire County Council, says: “Nottinghamshire residents deserve a bus network that serves all our communities. A lot of people don’t realise that we have no legal obligation to provide local bus services or any other form of public transport, however, we understand the vital lifeline that these buses provide to many of our residents going about their daily lives and that is why we want to fulfil our pledge that all Nottinghamshire communities should have access to the wider bus network. We need to ensure that people who rely on local buses for essential services can continue to access them and by filling gaps in the bus network, we hope to make local transport even more attractive, convenient and accessible to encourage more people to choose the bus instead of their car.”
Cllr Clarke adds: “The DRT services launched in the villages around Retford, Ollerton, Newark, Mansfield and west Rushcliffe have been a fantastic success and we’ve received amazing comments from customers who use the service, so we’re looking forward to rolling them out to other areas of Nottinghamshire to improve accessibility to work, training, health and leisure opportunities.”
Meantime, longer term Ruddington residents may recall that the current NottsBus 863 replaced the much more frequent number 63 bus operated by Paul S Winson (pictured below) – which also provided the only direct link to the QMC from (Keyworth via) Ruddington – but was axed to save money in August 2014.