Parcels by Bus. February 2021
Updated: Aug 30, 2021
There was a time when the humble country bus was more than just a bus. It was a means of connecting villages with towns and carrying not just passengers but parcels, newspapers and grocery orders. It was an integral part of the community. When Gareth of HSTG first moved to Ledbury in 1974, the local bus from Gloucester carried newspaper deliveries which were collected from points on route.
One of the biggest parcels carriers was Crosville Motor Services Ltd which covered a large part of rural north and Mid Wales. The brochure stated ‘By making full use of the Crosville Parcels Service traders can effect deliveries to distant towns and villages and outlying districts.’.
Today the country bus is in very real danger of extinction. Before the COVID-19 19 bailout for public transport operators ceases, a complete rethink of the ways our bus services are planned, operated and financed is needed.
Let's start that process now before it is too late and most of rural England is turned into a public transport desert. Let's start by considering the local bus as an integral part of the communities it serves and an essential part of the return to localism which we are happily beginning to see.
Whether the bus is run by a local operator, a Community Transport Interest Company or a mixture of both, returning the bus to the community is essential. To achieve this there needs to be a complete overhaul of the way our bus services are planned. That means a move completely away from the mantra of bus deregulation imposed on the bus industry by government in 1986. The 2019 House of Commons Transport Committee report on Bus Services stated Successive governments have stuck with deregulation, but the promised benefits have never materialised. Deregulation has, at best, done little more than slow the decline in bus use’. In rural areas it has accelerated it!
So let’s return the country bus to the community as part of the move to localism and let’s encourage operators to consider diversification, maximum use of the bus as an asset and numerous ways of boosting revenue and helping the community.