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Residents face being cut off after bus route reorganisation

12 Mar 2024 7 minute read
Terry Turton, 91, said he wouldn\’t know what to do with himself if the 86 stopped running by his house.Photo Ted Peskett.

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

Older and disabled residents are worried about the prospect of being left isolated by the reorganisation of a vital bus route in their community.

Adventure Travel will stop operating its number 86 service route at the end of March and part of it is set to be absorbed into the Cardiff Bus 29 service.

However, residents living on or near Maes y Coed Road and Heathway in Heath fear they will be left behind by the change.

Some of them who have difficulty walking said they wouldn’t have any alternative, with the next nearest bus stop about a 20 to 30 minute walk away and taxi fares being too expensive.

‘Very worried’

One 91-year-old man, who lives in Heathway, Terry Turton, said he was “very worried” by the situation.

“I wouldn’t know what to do with myself,” said Terry. “I used to love gardening, but I can’t touch my gardening [anymore], I can’t do any jobs around the house because I can’t walk properly.

“If I get out of this [wheelchair] I have got to use a zimmer frame and if I say to my wife ‘I am going to try and do something’, [she says] ‘no you’re not’ because I fell two weeks ago.”

There are railway stations in the area, Heath High Level and Heath Low Level, but Terry said these were difficult for him to access in his wheelchair.

Other residents who don’t drive into town said they wouldn’t have the benefit of being able to use their free bus passes if they used the train.

Isolated

A Heath Residents Association committee member, Glenna Parry, said: “There are so many of our members who live on Heathwood Road and Maes Y Coed Road, and the 86 is the only bus actually so a lot of them are going to feel isolated.

“They won’t be able to walk from Heathwood Road all the way up to Caerphilly Road to get the next bus or even to walk to Heath High Level Station is just too far for them.”

Glenna, a retired teacher, said she went into town to shop, spend time with her friends and visit the bank.

She added that the state of the pavements was also an issue for some residents who would have to walk further to access transport.

Glenna Parry said she uses the 86 regularly to go and visit friends, shop in town and visit the bank. Photo Ted Peskett.

Glenna said she fell and broke her wrist last year, adding: “[I] ended up having a plate put in and that was just walking along and minding my own business. Anybody who is a bit unsteady on their feet, the pavements are absolutely dreadful, so that would be an added [issue], and especially if it’s raining.

“Who wants to walk half a mile in the rain?”

Anna Brancazio, 67, uses the 86 bus three or four times a week to go into town, meet friends and to visit her mother who is in a nursing home. She and other residents in the community also use the bus for doctor appointments at University Hospital of Wales.

Anna, who lives in St Malo Road, said: “I am very concerned because it will isolate me and other people who live in the area.”

She added that the withdrawal of the 86 in the area would have a “big impact” on residents “because otherwise it would mean we in the Heath, in the Saints area, would have a 30 minute walk to the nearest bus stop – Caerphilly Road or Fidlas Avenue.

“It would be a struggle, especially with shopping if you are coming back from town and in the winter it would be a struggle.”

Another resident of St Malo Road, Graham Phillips, said he didn’t use the 86 that much, but his wife relied on it a lot.

Graham, 76, said: “If I wasn’t around she wouldn’t be able to go anywhere because she fell down the stairs, broke her leg [and] she has got a hip problem now.

“She does have trouble walking around. If we had to go to the hospital she couldn’t walk over there. With her hip it is just too bad.

“Even in the hospital you can’t park your car much, so I don’t know what the answer would be.”

Parking

Parking in the city centre or getting a taxi is not a cheap alternative for the couple.

Graham said he and his wife were recently faced with a £25 taxi bill for a one way journey from the centre of town.

He added: “You can’t pay that kind of money all of the time.”

Local councillors said they were aware that the withdrawal of the 86 would lead to residents around Maes y Coed and Heathway losing their current service.

They are trying to secure a reconfiguration of the Cardiff Bus 101 service to help the community, but no change is expected before the end of March.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow Cardiff Council ward members for Heath, Cllr Graham Hinchey said: “Local Heath councillors were not consulted or part of the decision making process on the recent and sudden changes to bus services in our area, including the 86 route through Maes y Coed Rd, Heathway and Heathwood Rd area.

“In short, most councillors across Cardiff only knew when everyone else was made aware of these late and sudden changes. This is particularly disappointing given we were heavily involved in previous campaigns and petitions to “save the 86 route” just a few years ago.”

Funding issues

Bus operators said they’d had to make changes to and withdraw some of their services over the past year due to funding issues and lower post-pandemic patronage.

The Welsh Government announced in May, 2023, that it was making £46m available to help bus services and Cllr Hinchey said he and his fellow ward members had been lobbying senior transport officials to submit a new bid for additional funding.

Cllr Hinchey added: “We will continue to press officials and bus operators to re establish or divert a service through the central Heath area as soon as possible.”

Older people and disabled people can access community transport operated by Voluntary Emergency Service Transport (VEST) to get to doctor appointments and these journeys need to be booked 4 days in advance.

Adventure Travel said it had not removed the 86 service, with a spokesperson for the bus operator adding: “As a result of the recent tenders and subsequent contract awards, Cardiff Council awarded Cardiff Bus the 86 service.

“Any decision to change/remove the service from the end of March would have been the decision of Cardiff Bus, not Adventure Travel, as we will no longer be the operator of the service from the end of March, and as such will no longer have a say in how the service operates.”

Cardiff Bus referred the Local Democracy Reporting Service to Cardiff Council for comment. The council said it was still in the process of looking at potentially reconfiguring a different service so that it served the community, and it was too early to go into more detail at this stage


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