Buses in Taunton
(see Guide to bus services tab for a summary of all services).
Everybody needs to go somewhere at some time or another. It might be for work or school, college or university, shopping or banking, visiting the doctor or hospital or to see someone already there or to visit or help friends and family. It could be for a theatre or cinema trip or a sporting event or a concert but whatever the reason, we all need to do it. We also need to do it in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner as much as possible.
What is public transport?
According to the Cambridge dictionary public transport is defined as “a system of vehicles such as buses and trains that operate at regular times on fixed routes and are used by the public”.
What modes of transport are available?
Public transport includes buses, planes, coaches, trams, trains, park and ride and boats/ferries. Some other means of transport are on foot, cycling, motorbike and car.
Some are free to us, others are free if we possess or own the mode of transport and others are at a cost to us.
Some of them are less damaging to the environment and others have the opposite effect. Public transport is an easier option if the means of accessing it is close to both your home and the place you need to access.
Some reasons for using your own transport
As this is mainly about bus usage the word bus is used but this also applies to other mean of public transport. If you were to ask “why do you not use public transport” you would get many answers. Some are genuine reasons and others are perceived reasons. They include:
- Distance to and from a bus stop is too great
- No available public transport to where they need to be
- Inability to walk to a bus stop or to get on a bus for health related issues or age
- Concerns for wheelchair users that there might already be another on the bus precluding them from getting on
- Multiple drop-offs needed such as dropping off at nursery/schools/work
- Car can be cheaper than public transport
- Takes much longer
- Difficulty in transporting several children to different schools/clubs
- Concerns about the dangers of children waiting on public roads
- A belief that public transport is unreliable, unaffordable and irregular
- A perception that buses are “not for them”
- A perception that buses are dirty or unsafe
Most of the perceived reasons can be disproved. Most buses and trains run to time and are a clean and effective way of travelling. Buses are of course subject to delays but so are cars and if a bus is caught up in a traffic jam then so will the car.
Some of the reasons for using public transport
Now we look at some of the reasons for using public transport:
- Greener and ecologically sound
- No parking problems
- No maintenance required
- Less costly than maintaining your own transport especially for those who have bus passes or rarely have to travel
- Can reduce loneliness – many people talk to others at the bus stop
- Reduces reliability on others
- Improves health – by walking to and from the bus stop
- Increases independence – no longer need to rely on someone else to take you
What public transport is available locally
There are many buses that travel to, from and through our County Town of Taunton and there is also a good service provided by South West Trains. Berrys Coaches also provide daily services to and from London leaving early morning and arriving back mid to late evening and is substantially less expensive than the train but does takes longer. All of these options run on a daily basis and can be considered to be affordable. The lack of evening and Sunday buses is a problem that needs to be overcome so that public transport becomes a viable alternative to the car by ensuring not just that travel to places of employment is possible but also that public transport allows a night out without the need for a costly taxi.
The provision of train services is good and Bath, Bristol, Exeter. Plymouth, Reading, London and other places are readily accessible although cost can be high and seats can be hard to find at times though these can be booked at no extra cost.
Park and Ride is another option but this has not been included as it involves the use of a car as well as public transport .
The removal of Webbers buses earlier this year left a huge gap which the other companies have tried to fill and for the most part they have succeeded although the lack of the previous service 15 which went from Wellington to Taunton town centre and on to Bridgwater and Burnham via the train station is sorely missed. This service was the only one that connected Wellington and Bridgwater with Taunton Station and Musgrove Park Hospital and there has been no viable alternative so far. It seems shortsighted to expect hospital patients, visitors and staff arriving by train to have to use 2 different buses to reach the hospital.
Can I get to work using public transport?
Appendix A details each company – bus or coach – the towns and villages covered by each route and the times of the first and last bus – these being to Taunton in the morning and from Taunton in the evening thus showing if it is feasible to use a bus to travel to work or school. Berrys coaches are also listed although this is a far longer journey but does allow for a day out in London to be easily accessible from villages and towns that do not have a railway station. National Express has not been included as the timetables were not available.
Frequency has also to be considered as a popular route that has only one bus arriving before school or work commences is not as useful as a route that has several running at these hours. The companies are listed in no particular order.
The table shows that it is possible to get to Taunton before 9am from many towns and villages in Somerset and also from across the border in Devon. In most cases it is also possible to return after 5pm.
Note: Buses of Somerset made major changes to their timetables in October and some routes no longer run or have been amended drastically or combined with others.
The towns and villages served by buses are listed in Appendix B. This does not include those served specifically by Berrys coaches (although the majority of these are included in Appendix B).
All facts are correct at the time of writing (September 2016) but should not be relied on as timetables frequently change.
We can see that public transport is available from many of the towns and villages and at times to allow travel to and from work/college and schools. What is not possible however is to travel home after a night out or on a Sunday. If this were to be remedied then public transport would become a much more attractive option and lead to the possibility of roads becoming clearer at peak times of day. Ideally a better service in the evenings and on Sundays and more services to and from the hospital from other areas would increase usage.