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There is a Third Way to achieving a bus solution across MK say Conservatives

Cllr David Hopkins, Conservative Group Leader, will be asserting that there is a third way to provide a solution for bus transport across Milton Keynes, at this week’s Full Council meeting.

A way that reconnects communities, often our most rural areas, who currently cannot easily access the hospital, station or other key services in CMK, that is affordable, and that positively responds to the present climate emergency, to which the focus of this authority needs, very urgently, to return.

Cllr Hopkins will argue just why do we need better bus services?

Buses are the most used public transport mode in Britain. They provide an essential service for every village, town and city and make transport accessible to everyone – young and old – for work, education, health, leisure, shopping and so much more. Even those who don’t use buses recognise their value. Motorists, for example, know that without buses there would be more cars competing for road space.

A hybrid bus-based solution supports the provision of new homes

Demand for new homes in and around MK continues to outstrip supply despite the highest ever delivery being recorded from our city. With the pace of home building likely to accelerate following reforms to planning laws, there is already evidence in Cllr Hopkin’s ever-growing ward that residents of these new homes will (long into the future) have no choice other than to rely on a car to access work, education, and local services.

Cllr Hopkins will argue that Wavendon, Eagle Farm South and Glebe Farm has no shops, no pub and currently has no scheduled, reliable, and timetabled bus services. Residents attend our Parish and Town Council meetings in despair complaining of the shambles that is MK Connect citing as examples failed attempts to get to a health appointment, to work, to school or to college or to connect to a train.

To minimise additional traffic and avoid social isolation, public transport systems across MK need to be scheduled, flexible and imaginatively designed so that they can be extended to serve new developments and adapted to changing demand.

Buses can play an important part in cutting carbon emissions

MKCC declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, committing to be carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon negative by 2050. Cllr Hopkins will argue that modern bus design, including the provision of electric buses, can play a key role in reducing carbon emissions.

Cllr Hopkins will argue against the Labour / Lib Dem administration’s claim that MK cannot afford a comprehensive, scheduled city-wide bus service. He believes it is a question of choices, as if MKCC can afford to allocate £7 million to support the government’s East West Rail phase 2, from Bletchley to Cambridge, project then we can choose between that or supporting local transport services for local people. If the government wants to complete the national infrastructure project that is EWR, then they must pay for it from general rather than local taxation.

Cllr Hopkins will also highlight that on 13 December 2022, the Cabinet member responsible for public transport authorised subsidising the failing DRT (MK Connect service) with half a million pounds (£500,000) of s106 monies. In effect subsiding trips on DRT from CMK to Conniburrow with money that, under S106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, should be being spent towards the costs of providing community and social infrastructure, the need for which has arisen as a result of a new development taking place.

Cllr Hopkins will maintain that whilst this is not illegal this is certainly morally indefensible, especially when this could have provided a part subsidised, timetabled, reliable service connecting (for example) the old and new parts of Wavendon and Woburn Sands with the rest of MK and beyond – in line with the definition and spirit of the Act.

Cllr Hopkins concludes ’It’s down to choices and there is a third way, a blending of the more successful aspects of MK Connect with a reliable, timetabled bus service linking to all parts of MK and beyond’.

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