Why was the X1 bus service removed?

QUESTION:
Can you please indicate the reasons why the X1 bus service was replaced by a number of minibuses and whether the rumours now circulating are true that it was due to the University no longer able to afford the costs involved in supporting this service?

 

ANSWER:
The University has, for the last few years, subsidised the X1 bus route to provide an inter-site travel option for our students and staff between the Beaconside and Stoke-on-Trent campuses. The restrictions of bus timetabling to try and meet everyone’s requirements meant that the arrival and departure times were not meeting student demands. Feedback from students and staff has been negative so we wanted to address this. We had lengthy discussions with Bakers Coaches and London Midland, who were also a partner in the X1 but found that we could not significantly improve the timetable. We had to consider the cost of the subsidy against the quality of service for our students and reached the decision that we could no longer justify the investment. We decided instead to invest in a free shuttle service between campuses as an alternative that we hope students and staff will appreciate.

Will you be able to book a place on the new minibus?

QUESTION:
As I don’t drive I use the X1 to travel to Stafford from Stoke, although this is not on daily basis. When I do use the bus I need to be able to guarantee getting there for a specific time – for meetings or teaching. Will there be an option to book a place on the mini-bus on a particular time or date? I would not want to have to leave the office an hour earlier to give myself two chances on getting a bus – that does not seem an effective use of time.
Also who will have priority for places – students or staff? When we had a mini-bus previously the priority was staff and students could be asked to give up a place if there were staff wishing to use it. I am assuming that this will no longer the case. Will it just be ‘first come first on’?

 
ANSWER:
The shuttle minibus service between Stoke and Stafford will be free of charge, with student or staff cards required to board. The service will run hourly between 7am and 7pm and will be a direct service. We are in the process of finalising timetables and all other details and will publish this information to RSS as soon as the detail is confirmed.

Will a minibus be big enough to replace the X1 service?

QUESTION:
I don’t know if this is something that you are able to answer, but I have a concern regarding the changes to the bus service. I am not a driver so rely on the X1 bus to get me from Stoke to Black Heath Lane. I gather that there will be a mini bus shuttle in place, which is great, but at the moment, the international students pretty much fill a double decker, and there has been times that because they have completely filled the bus, I have had to stand all the way. I’m just worried that a mini bus may not be big enough, and that if it is full of students, there wont be room for me to get on the bus, therefore meaning that I will be an hour late for work due to waiting for the next one?

 

ANSWER:
We are working with faculty colleagues to make sure that we have the best information possible about demand for the bus service before confirming our timetable. By managing the service in-house we will have the flexibility to respond to any issues very quickly.

How will changes to the X1 service affect intersite travel?

Executive have received several questions around the recent X1 bus service announcement. Please note that they have been placed together within this featured post to avoid repetition.

QUESTIONS:
1) The X1 bus service provides an excellent link between the Stoke and Stafford campuses as well as shuttle service to / from Stafford rail station and Beaconside. One of the issues however is the need to pay up front for the journey and reclaim this later.

Would it be feasible for staff to be able to show their staff cards in exchange for free travel thereby saving the need for them to reclaim this expense in due course?

2) I understand that the X1 bus will only go between Stoke and Stone from September, rather than on to Beaconside. If so, this is a potential problem, especially for the international students studying Computing in Stafford where the majority live in Stoke, and have travelled to and from Stafford via the X1 bus in the past. It also hinders our attempts to get to staff to use the bus for inter-site travel, and makes staff at Beaconside who are aware of the discussions on the “estates strategy” start to feel more isolated. I also hear the frequency is reducing, to one bus every two hours.
I know Baker is an outside company, but I seem to remember that we subsidise the company to some extent to support the intersite bus system? So we might have a say on their routes and timings. What plans are in place if Bakers are indeed abandoning Beaconside to enable students to travel there and back to Stoke where many of them live?

3) The X1 Bakerbus service that connects both campuses is under review (http://www.bakerbus.com/route-changes/) and it is going to operate between Hanley and Stone (also with reduced frequency) from September. A number of students and staff rely on that service daily to get to Beaconside. Does the University have any input on this, as this will affect people’s daily commute both in terms of additional travel time and cost?

 

ANSWER:
The X1 bus service will be curtailed from the beginning of September to run between Hanley and Stone only. The University has decided to operate a shuttle minibus service between Stoke and Stafford exclusively for students and staff, which will be free of charge.

To board the minibus, student or staff cards will be required. The service will run hourly between 7am and 7pm and will be a direct service. We are in the process of finalising timetables etc and will publish this information to RSS as soon as the detail is confirmed.