The Conservative party claim that Labour-led Milton Keynes Council’s new demand responsive transport system (DRT), the MK Connect service has flopped since its launch on April 1st.
The new ‘dial-a-bus’ transport system was introduced following Labour’s decision to slash 13 bus routes. However, residents across MK have resisted the move away from traditional bus services.
Complaints have arisen about increased cost of travel, the suitability of travel for residents with mobility issues and accessibility for elderly residents who relied on a scheduled service and cannot use the mobile application.
Communicating the changes to residents has also been a problem. The Council’s own “Bus Timetables, Maps and Travel Updates” website fails to include up-to-date information on the 301-bus route ceasing to operate.
One resident said: “The changes to the bus services have taken away freedom and mobility for many elderly and disabled people in Milton Keynes. The MK Connect service is not fit for purpose and just tells people to talk, take 2 buses and then walk again. Not great for those with mobility problems is it?!” While another resident expressed her outrage that the move has “taken away lot of pensioners’ freedom, removing their regular bus routes”.
Last September, the local Conservatives fought the Labour Council against making the drastic cuts to the transport system. They said that the Council would be abandoning workers who will have to pay higher fares to get around and also probed the impact it could have on elderly and vulnerable residents.
One resident backed up these claims stating that it now costs her son’s monthly travel to increase from “£27 to £40 because services are cut” and another resident stated that they “now have to get 2 buses to work”. Another resident said she was “annoyed” because she now has to “get a cab to work” because MK Connect doesn’t start early enough for her to get to work in time.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said:
“Since the MK Connect service launched, we’ve received dozens of complaints from residents anxious and frankly angry about the loss of their ability to travel on bus routes they had been using for years.
“It’s just another sign that this Labour Council has no interest in ensuring MK’s recovery. At a time when our economy is still struggling, they’ve put up dramatic barriers to people who just want to get to work. “DRT can be an effective system but as ever Labour’s incompetence has seen a rushed and haphazard approach. No trial and bad comms. Now the Council has a huge challenge to demonstrate this system actually works and restore trust.”