SADDLEWORTH HAS delivered a big thumbs down to transport bosses’ visions to get more people on bikes.
The car remains king for villagers who would only be tempted by public transport with the introduction of higher frequency bus and train services, lower prices, quicker journey times and integrated timetables.
These are the key findings from a survey undertaken last autumn by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) aimed at “delivering better rural public transport in a more efficient way”.
A total of 14,000 surveys were distributed with 1,645 responses received during five weeks of consultation.
Nearly 20 percent surveyed – the highest percentage – said they never use the bus, while 78 percent never cycle.
Asked what would make people cycle more and what would make them take up cycling, the overwhelming response was ‘Nothing.’
TfGM want 10 percent of all journeys in Greater Manchester by 2025 made by bike, but the Saddleworth Transport Survey Report concluded: “Improved cycling provision is not a priority for local people.”
Suggestions of re-opening Diggle Station have been rejected on cost grounds, and bringing Metrolink to Saddleworth is described as likely to be unachievable.
Only 48 percent said they were satisfied with Saddleworth’s bus services, with usage mainly for shopping, while travelling to/from work was only fourth on the list of priorities.
Usage was also largely confined to people travelling throughout Saddleworth, with Oldham and Manchester coming second and third on the list of destinations.
Additionally, the survey’s findings appear to contradict recent figures of an increase of 7.69 percent in passenger numbers at Greenfield Station.
Most common answers to frequency of usage were: ‘less often,’ ‘once a month’ and ‘never’, while just over half said they were satisfied with train services.
Nearly half of Saddleworthians asked had never heard of the Local Link service, and of those who were aware of Local Link only a quarter used it.
Discussing the survey’s findings Jonathan Hughes, from TfGM, said: “The number of responses was large for a survey of this size, which was very pleasing and mildly surprising.”
Commenting on bus and train satisfaction levels, Mr Hughes added: “Neither figure is great but it could have been worse.”
Addressing the February District Partnership meeting in Uppermill, he was unable to confirm how conclusions from the survey might be implemented.
“There is a Bus Services Bill in Parliament by May and the election of a new Mayor of Greater Manchester so we have to factor both of those things in,” he explained.
“They could change legally what we can and cannot do, and how services work in the area.
“The results will depend on what sort of money we have. There won’t be a lot of extra money so it might be a re-jig of the services we have, rather than a whole new system.
“But we will spend the money in the best possible way we can for Saddleworth.”
Cllr Rob Knotts criticised the lack of a decent public transport system in the area.
“Based on population, Saddleworth contributes about £1.6million for transport and that is an awful lot of money,” he said.
“To spend that and feel we are not getting the services we need is not on.”
Cllr Royce Franklin, chair of the Parish Council’s Transport and Traffic Sub Committee, last year helped submit a report to TfGM for their ‘Strategy 2040’ document.
“We suggested there should be a bus with a route from village to village and this report suggests a lot of people use transport within Saddleworth rather than to other destinations,” he said.
“This reinforces the need to have a local service that runs between each of the villages. I hope this can be considered in the new proposals.”