Bus Services (Milton Keynes)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:30 pm on 29th June 2010.

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Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South 10:30 pm, 29th June 2010

I am grateful to have secured this debate. I requested it because of the significant level of disquiet in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend Mark Lancaster over the new network and timetable introduced by Arriva buses throughout Milton Keynes on 25 April. The new network and timetable were introduced with hardly any proper consultation, and there have been significant complaints about the punctuality and reliability of the new services.

It is fair to say that, in the seven or eight weeks that I have been a Member of the House, I have had more letters and e-mails on this subject than on any other. On 11 June, my hon. Friend and I attended a forum organised in Milton Keynes. It was a protest meeting organised by the Milton Keynes older person's forum, and I congratulate Peter Ballantyne and his colleagues on organising it. I have never been to such a packed public protest meeting-it was literally standing room only. That gives an indication of the level of disquiet in Milton Keynes over the new bus system.

Before detailing the concerns expressed and outlining what I hope are some of the possible solutions, I shall explain why the design and geography of Milton Keynes makes the provision of good bus services more complex than in many other cities and towns. Unlike most towns and cities, the normal pattern of travel is not just in what one might term a hub-and-spoke arrangement, under which the broad direction of travel is from outlying residential areas into the urban centre, where most businesses, shops and leisure activities are. There is that travel in Milton Keynes, but our grid system disperses places of employment, leisure and retail throughout the city. So the patterns of travel are not just from the outskirts into the middle, but multi-directional at any given point in the day. That presents a challenge to bus operators to put in place an effective system.

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