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Ash Aspect: Withdrawal of Bus Service is ‘Punishing’ Ash and Tongham Residents

Published on: 16 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 20 Feb, 2019

By David Reading

What’s the reason for having a bus service? The question may sound daft and the obvious answer is, to enable people to travel from A to B – particularly those who have no other means of transport.

If you accept that reasoning, you will, like me, find the latest decision by Stagecoach South rather baffling.

From Monday, February 17, the No. 3 service from Aldershot to Yateley will no longer run through Tongham. Many bus travellers who live in Tongham and parts of Ash will find life extremely difficult if they need to get to the doctors’ surgery in Ash Vale or to Frimley Park Hospital, or if they have to pick up a prescription at Lloyds Pharmacy.

Stagecoach says the reason for removing the No. 3 from the so-called “Tongham loop” is to improve punctuality throughout the entire route.

The No 3 Stagecoach Service

Managing director Mr Edward Hodgson said problems along the route stemmed from worsening traffic congestion, which had resulted in longer journey times.

“Customer feedback consistently shows that punctuality is the most important factor for bus users,” he told The Guildford Dragon NEWS, “and the changes we are making to the No 3 are designed to address punctuality and ensure that we are as punctual as possible across the whole route. To create the extra running time needed to combat the rising congestion delays we have taken the difficult decision to remove the No 3 from Tongham.

“However, we continue to serve Tongham with our “Kite” service which runs every 15 minutes and connects the area to Aldershot, Ash and Guildford.”

So in serving the majority, a significant minority will lose their service. It is, of course, possible to rationalise the decision. People can always walk the length of Manor Road and pick up either the Kite, the No. 41 or the No. 42. Somehow they can still get to Ash Vale or Frimley Park Hospital. But this involves a much more convoluted journey, and in any case doesn’t take account of people who are elderly, handicapped or pushing a wheelchair.

Graham Eyre, former chair of ASHRA (the Ash Residents’ Association) and a Conservative candidate at the forthcoming May council elections, commented: “It seems that Stagecoach is punishing the people of Ash and Tongham for delays on other parts of the No. 3 route. We are determined to do everything we can to get Stagecoach to reconsider.”

Mr Eyre is getting together with local councillors Paul Spooner and Matt Furniss and the three of them have called for an urgent meeting with Stagecoach. I understand they would like to involve Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath, but obviously Mr Gove has a few other things on his plate at present.

Cllr Spooner told The Dragon: “Personally I am very disappointed by Stagecoach’s decision as it will clearly have implications for public transport provision for residents of Tongham wishing to go directly to Frimley Park Hospital and I am pleased that the MD of Stagecoach will at least meet us and discuss their position.”

The people of Tongham and Ash will be hoping that common sense prevails.

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test 4 Responses to Ash Aspect: Withdrawal of Bus Service is ‘Punishing’ Ash and Tongham Residents

  1. Phil Buckley Reply

    February 17, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Typical, once again Tongham gets short shrift. There are plenty of folk in Tongham who rely on public transport and without a service to Ash for the doctors, or Frimley for the hospital, some people are going to be seriously disadvantaged

  2. Alan Davies Reply

    February 17, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    A shame if Tongham loses its bus service to Frimley Park. We need more, not less, bus services.

    Glad to see that Cllrs Spooner and Furniss are contacting the bus operator but surely they knew about the proposed service closure beforehand? I understand Cllr Furniss is responsible for highways and transport at the county council.

    If they are hoping for a ticket at the May elections perhaps they have already missed the bus?

  3. John Lomas Reply

    February 18, 2019 at 8:58 am

    I don’t know if the route is a subsidized one or a purely commercial one, if the latter then surely, due to deregulation, Stagecoach had no responsibility to inform the council until after they had decided to change the route/timings.

  4. Joyce Bourne Reply

    March 2, 2019 at 11:50 am

    The withdrawal of the no. 3 bus affects me greatly. I do hope something can be done about it

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