It was bad enough that along with thousands of others I watched the Alex go down 0-1 to Chesterfield; but my Wednesday evening got even worse when I was left waiting for an hour for a bus to Sandbach.
Having left the match a minute before time to sprint down Gresty Road and catch the 2140 from Crewe Arms, I and others had to wait an hour, because our bus had been cancelled. Now I'm sure that Arriva have a genuine reason for this and to be fair to them the 38 route is generally very reliable, but where are the contingencies?
Our frustration was compounded by seeing an "out of service" Arriva bus pass us twice during the one hour wait. If it was being driven by a mechanic rather than a bus driver, and therefore unable to pick up passengers, he could at least have stopped to tell us our bus was cancelled. We'd have been grateful in the knowledge that we could have retired to one of Nantwich Road's excellent pubs and wait for the 2240 in the warm.
I used to be a bus driver in Crewe when the situation would have been very different. First there used to be two buses to Sandbach every hour in the evening; the Macclesfield bus and the Winsford bus. Second, because Arriva's predecessors garaged at Crewe Bus Station they were able to mobilise alternative vehicles very quickly in the event of a breakdown.
When I look at the investment Labour has made in bus services and the fantastic improvements for passengers in other areas, I feel badly let down by Cheshire East Council. It's twenty years since I was on the buses, the local service has deteriorated in that time, whilst services improved elsewhere. Why does the Council expect people to use the bus when the services are so infrequent and the information is so poor?
These are my three top priorities for bus improvements and I hope Cheshire East Council is listening:
1. Live passenger information at bus stops. Commonplace in many areas, keeping passengers informed of delays and cancellations. It is a disgrace that some bus stops in Crewe and Nantwich that don't even have a timetable, just an expensive telephone number to call for information.
2. A new bus terminus in Crewe. We are all fed up with our existing bus station, it is an embarrasment to the Town. We need a new bus station, not in the town centre, but at the railway station. Let's have a proper integrated transport network that reflects the geography of the town and links to the Crewe Gateway Project, which could deliver an upgraded rail station on the existing site, a new link road and the opportunity to create 7-8,000 jobs on the Basford sites.
3. Crewe and Nantwich based bus companies. I believe that Cheshire East should only hand out contracts to companies who garage their buses in the Crewe and Nantwich area. We are a major bus and rail hub and it is unacceptible that existing local operators garage way outside the area.
If the Tory leadership of Cheshire East Council were as reliant on public transport as I and many others are, we would have a better bus service. The only way to tackle environmental concerns and the ever increasing problems of congestion is to have a bus network that is fast, frequent and friendly to passenger needs. The ball is in your court Cheshire East Tories.
Labour's Parliamentary Candidate
for Crewe and Nantwich