Friday, 14 December 2018
13 August 2011

Empty Hospital Bus every 15 minutes

But the service never runs at weekends

On 7th February 2011, Heatherwood and Wexham Hospital Trust inaugurated a new bus service the "WP1" otherwise known as "The Saver". The route being from Slough Railway Station, direct to Wexham Park Hospital.

The introduction of the bus service was part of the Trust's  'Green Transport Plan'

which will make it easier for staff who can no longer park on site to travel to the hospital

It was supposed to

reduce the demand on the visitors' car park and surrounding roads.

The plan has failed abysmally.

Those travelling through Wexham will have noticed that since the introduction of the bus service, parking on formerly green verges has increased in Wexham Road, and Stoke Green (South Bucks) and now extends to the roadway in Norway Drive (Slough).

Living off of Stoke Road in Slough, I have been increasingly concerned at the number of times I have encountered buses passing the end of my road, either without passengers aboard or numbering two or three.

Having checked the timetable for "The Saver" I was horrified to find that the bus service operates from 06:30 to 22:00, Monday to Friday every 15 minutes. This has increased bus movements by 124 per day along the already congested Stoke Road in Slough and twisty Grays Park Road and Stoke Green which has staff cars parked on both sides at its junction with Wexham Road.

The curious thing is that the bus does not operate at the weekend, leaving buses 3 and 8 from Slough to convey passengers from the railway station, each on a half-hourly service on Saturday and hourly on Sunday.

Bucks County Council and South Bucks District Council have done nothing to address the parking problem but have served an enforcement order on a privately owned car park offering cheap parking, opposite the hospital entrance, ironically the grounds being that it is "Green Belt". I believe that the Trust support this ?

One wonders whether if it had been in the heartland of Buckinghamshire, their councils would have ignored the parking problems so easily whilst protect such spurious green belt.

I am aware that Fiona Mactaggart MP has met with Dominic Grieve MP to try and resolve matters but still no improvement to the parking mess has taken place as a result of the Bucks councils inactivity.

The suggestion by the Trust's Head of Patient Affairs to me that the service was "approved" by Slough Borough Council and the Transport Commissioners is untrue. Since deregulation no approval is needed to establish a bus service, only compliance with operating strictures and simple registration of the service.

Apparently the bus is now seen as a commercial venture, not for the benefit of the staff. It is also interesting that new fences have been erected within the hospital grounds to stop the parking of cars on verges and thus forcing them on to the highways.

I challenge the hospital trust to justify NHS money being spent on a bus that is clearly uneconomic and which has increased pollution and congestion even further into Slough by 32,240 bus movements a year. Dual carriageways could have been used for a reduced volume of buses to purely meet staff needs. Passengers have used the regular bus services for many years and clearly are not using "The Saver" in any number.

It is about time that all parties take part in a concerted effort to resolve the present dire situation.

Trevor Allen

Wexham Park hospital stated on 20 September 2011:-

The Bus service is a tendered partnership between Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Redline Buses.

The service is funded from revenue (bus fares) and from the money which staff pay for their parking permits. This has been agreed as part of the Travel Plan. There is therefore no cost to the Trust or the public purse.

The service started on 7th February 2011.

The service runs every 15 minutes, weekdays, from early morning, to late evening, to suit existing shift patterns.

The Trust offer and operate a salary sacrifice scheme for staff to use the bus service. This is approved by HMRC. There are staff who use the bus but have opted not to use the salary sacrifice scheme.

SOLA 010738