In December the County Council launched a very brief consultation regarding the future commissioning of the Ipswich Park and Ride service. Officers stressed that ”this consultation is not about cutting the service; the three questions were about how we deliver it in future.”
However, the questions were limited, leading and offered no opportunity to comment. The time given for people to respond to the survey was extremely short and included the Christmas holiday. There was very little publicity for the survey, apart from a notice in the buses themselves.
Given such circumstances, the actual point of this survey could be called into question!
The questions were :–
- Would it be acceptable to use buses that are not dedicated to the Park and Ride scheme to deliver the service so long as a high frequency service is still maintained?
- If the services were changed so as not to offer the cross town link would this seriously disadvantage you as a passenger? (Currently the Park and Ride services are linked to each other so that a bus leaving one site goes all the way through Ipswich to the other site. A proposal is that the Park and Ride scheme reverts to its original operation with buses from each site going to the town centre only and returning to the same site. This may have the effect of improving reliability but may require some passengers to change buses in the town centre).
- If staff were not present on site would this have an impact on your journey? (Currently the Park and Ride sites are manned whilst the service is operating. They assist passengers and ensure that the facilities are kept to a high standard. A proposal is that the buildings could be used in a different way that still provide basic facilities (rest rooms etc) to passengers but without staff being present at all times.)
As a Martlesham Parish Councillor pointed out, “it was an exceptionally primitive survey indeed.. I would argue very strongly that it is quite useless for the purpose implied in the email below. In particular the answer to the simple question which asked whether you would use the service if it relied on existing bus routes depends largely on the journey time and seat availability of the alternatives. For example if it meant using the 66 through then the answer for many would be no as it takes too long.”
Recent events have highlighted SCC’s poor record on consultation over public transport matters – for example their unilateral decision-making on concessionary fares.
While it can only be good to see a recognition of this, however belated, I suspect it might also be a good idea to give training on how to actually create surveys. It seems to me that SurveyMonkey has a lot to answer for!