As part of a series of summer visits to local transport operators in High Wycombe, I visited Carousel Buses’ depot on Hughenden Avenue in High Wycombe.
I enjoyed meeting Phil Southall, Managing Director for Carousel Buses and learning more about Carousel’s developments in e-ticketing as well as the next generation of buses. Many new buses travel on Carousel’s routes connecting Wycombe to towns including Stokenchurch, Reading, Chesham, Uxbridge and Heathrow Airport providing comfort for many passengers.
I also asked a series of questions about Carousel’s operations:
- Would Carousel consider introducing a new regular service conntecting High Wycombe to Beaconsfield via Hazlemere, Penn and Tylers Green?
Carousel responded that they operate the 577 service on behalf of Buckinghamshire County Council. This operates from Hazlemere to Beaconsfield via Penn and Tyler’s Green.
Carousel stated that “the timetable, which is specified by the County Council, is designed to provide connections for commuters to trains at Beaconsfield. The timetable also caters for pupils attending school in Beaconsfield.
Carousel added that “the main services between High Wycombe and Beaconsfield (740/ A40 and 336) operate via the main A40 road. This route provides a more direct and quicker journey for the majority of passengers using the service. The route also serves Wycombe Marsh, Loudwater and Holtspur. We therefore do not intend to re-route any of our existing High Wycombe to Beaconsfield services via a more circuitous route. The 577 timetable is determined by Buckinghamshire County Council and already provides coverage at time where this is likely to be the greatest demand.”
- Would Carousel consider trialling a regular Sunday service for their popular 336 route between High Wycombe and Watford?
Carousel responded that the 336 service receives financial support from Buckinghamshire and Herfordshire County Councils. They stated “the route operates on Monday to Saturday as these are the busiest days of the week. A Sunday service could not be provided without significant extra funding and it is unlikely that this would be available.”
- Would Carousel consider increasing their presence at Eden Bus Station to provide personal travel information to their customers i.e. opening their bureau on a regular basis?
Carousel responded that they aimed to increase their staff presence at the Eden Bus Station. Staff would be encouraged to be a visible presence on the concourse. Carousel aims to have a member of staff at the bus station to answer customer enquiries from 09:00 to 16:30 from Mondays to Fridays.
- Would Carousel consider enhancing their late afternoon/ evening service between Heathrow Airport/ Uxbridge and High Wycombe?
Carousel responded that there is a gap in service during Buckinghamshire School Summer Holidays. They stated “over the summer the number of passengers using the 740/ A40 drops significantly. Most services are quieter over the summer holidays with fewer journeys being made. The reduction in patronage is particularly pronounced on the 740/A40 as one of the key passenger flows on the service is between Uxbridge and High Wycombe for Bucks New University. Due to the reduced demand a special summer timetable operates on the 740/ A40 and this enable two less buses to be used. This is an important and necessary cost saving for this period of reduced revenue. We have spent some time looking at the options for filling the gap and have been unable to find a solution that can be implemented by making adjustments to existing timetables. The big gap only appears during the school summer holidays. We are planning a wider more in depth review of our timetables shortly and will look to see what solutions may be possible with wider timetable changes. We would hope to have these revised timetables in place by next summer.”
- What actions are Carousel taking to ensure that bus travel remains affordable for their passengers around High Wycombe?
Carousel responded that they always try and keep a firm control of costs that are within their control. They stated “unfortunately there are many costs that are outside our control. For example an increase in traffic congestion leads to longer journey times and so resources that could be deployed more efficiently end up being tied up in traffic. We try to make our services as attractive as possible to potential customers. We offer a range of discounted tickets providing unlimited travel within the relevant travel zone for different periods of travel. We have recently made a significant investment in new ticket machines for our buses to enable passenger to pay for their travel using contactless bank cards or apple/ android pay. We are currently developing plans to introduce a smartcard for travel on both our and other operators’ services in High Wycombe.”
For more information about Carousel’s services and timetables, visit Carousel’s website. Thank you to Carousel representatives who took the time to meet with me and explore these important issues.