The 64 bus service and route that was once provided by Carterton Coaches then Stagecoach and eventually Pulhams, was a vital lifeline for many of us in the West Oxfordshire, East Gloucestershire and North Wiltshire areas.
We could travel to these areas for convenience and everyday life, to be able to connect to the south, southwest and south east but also for connecting north and north eastward be it for employment, education, shopping or leisure.
The need for our rural communities to be reconnected to employment, education, local amenities and to services further afield needs to be recognised.
As we are based in Filkins and Broughton Poggs, which is in west Oxfordshire on the east Gloucestershire border and on the A361, I feel very strongly that this situation affects us all and is very relevant to all of us, not just those of us in Oxfordshire but our Gloucestershire and Wiltshire neighbours as well.
We need strong support in getting recognition for our services to be reinstated.
The 64 service for example from Carterton to Swindon was an ideal service that provided much needed connection and links to employment, education, leisure, tourism, commercial and transport needs for those of us in Carterton, Kencot, Broadwell, Langford, Filkins, Broughton Poggs, Little Faringdon, Lechlade on Thames, Inglesham, Coleshill, Highworth and Swindon.
Now many if not all of us are not connected at all, and for those of us who are connected, our links are limited.
For example: Lechlade to Cirencester or Highworth:
This service relies on connecting services which has turned a direct service of roughly an hour into a logistical nightmare of connecting busses and increased travel times of well over an hour and in most cases with very limited feasible options to begin with.
Adding another connecting bus service to link our communities would add a THIRD bus for a 45 minute, 16 mile journey.
Filkins to Lechlade, Lechlade to Highworth, Highworth to Swindon.
For those of us outside of Lechlade, we do not have any adequate services at all, unless if you live in Carterton where there are around three+ buses an hour to Witney and Oxford.
Outside of Carterton, the rest of our communities are neglected.
For most of us, our two closest and most important railway links are Oxford and Swindon.
Many of us can no longer reach either.
This should not be a political matter.
This should not be about County rivalry.
This should be about reconnecting our communities again so we can reach further afield and remove the isolation and neglect that our communities have faced since we lost roughly 122 services back in 2016.
I cannot speak for other areas in the district that I reside, but I can work with others towards reinstating a service that we did have and was an ideal service that connected us to Oxfordshire and beyond and into Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and beyond.
I have included some links relevant to this matter: Bus subsidy withdrawal:
Bus subsidy outcome: https://mycouncil.oxfordshire.gov.uk/documents/s31615/CA_NOV1015R08%20Annex%20B%20-%20Results.pdf
Lechlade timetable: https://bustimes.org/services/77-highworth-swindon-street-cirencester-the-forum
With enough interest, I hope that the residents of Filkins and Broughton Poggs can help us formulate a stronger case for reinstating our services and connecting our communities once again.
By coming together to formulate a plan of action, recognising the needs and wants in regards to public transport, even if that is leads to various districts and county councils' cohesion and cooperation would be a positive step in the right direction for lifting our communities out of isolation.
As I mentioned before. This shouldn't be about county or district rivalries. This should be about positively connecting our communities once more for the benefit of all who depend on them and benefitting all those involved.
I use the 64 route as an example as it connected all of us locally and further afield!
Be it Carterton to Witney and Oxford for employment, education and transport and the same for Swindon.
This is about our communities being able to access employment, education, transport, commercial needs, leisure and recreational reasons and even needs of those wanting to see friends and family.
All of your help and cooperation in this endeavour would be greatly appreciated and highly welcomed.
Lee S. Bennett
Filkins and Broughton Poggs Community Led Plan.