Councillor calls on expansion of Little Oranges bus route after passengers ‘left stranded’

THERE are calls for a bus service to be expanded after Wokingham borough residents say they have been left stranded at the side of the road.

The 19b service to Woodley and Earley, run by Reading Buses, is being looked at by Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, the executive member for highways.

She said that the issues have been going on for the past couple of years and that the bus company’s improvements last year haven’t had the desired impact.

“We had some issues with people being left behind in Beech Lane, because the 19b bus wasn’t big enough,” she said. “Last year we carried out some changes to the bus service, which improved the situation but I’ve had quite a lot of complaints from my residents recently: people have, again, been left behind because the bus just isn’t big enough.”

Cllr Jorgensen said that the highways team at the council had asked Reading Buses to take action, but hadn’t met with a positive response, so she vowed to take action herself.

“I think we really do need to do something about this bus. It’s not very amusing when you’re waiting in the rain for a bus and it rolls past because it says it’s full. It’s certainly affecting my residents that use the bus. In addition, I’d actually like to increase the frequency of them.”

The council is unable to offer any subsidy to Reading Buses as it is a commercially operated route.

“If you’re a commercial company and you can get more passengers on your bus then I would have thought they should be interested in increasing the usage of the bus,” Cllr Jorgensen said.

Other ideas being mooted is whether the route could take double deckers.

“I’ve had comments that some of the overhanging trees and things mean that it’s not suitable for double deckers, but that’s another thing I’ll be taking up with Reading Buses as well,” Cllr Jorgensen promised.

A spokesperson for Reading Buses said: “We have discussed the matter with officers from Wokingham Borough Council and there are a number of other services that we would like to encourage students to use.

“We are conscious that with the new academic year starting, young people are finding their routines, meaning the situation may settle down of its own accord given the various options available – but we are scoping out other options just in case it doesn’t.

“We would welcome the chance to speak to the Councillor about this directly, and look forward to hearing from her.”

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