Safety fears over bus overcrowding

OTTERY councillor Roger Giles has challenged the county council about overcrowding on a busy bus route.

The 60A service between Honiton and Exeter leaves Ottery at 7.36am. Addressing the council’s cabinet member for highways and transportation, Stuart Hughes, at a meeting last week, Cllr Giles said by the time it reached West Hill at 7.43am there were no seats left.

“Many students attending Exeter College and Exeter schools have to stand all the way from West Hill to Exeter,” he said.

On November 16 he noted 26 passengers standing on the later stages of the journey.

“Does Cllr Hughes share my concerns about the dangers to passengers in standing on a bus which may have to stop suddenly because of the rural roads on which it travels?” he said. “Will he do what he can to ensure sufficient capacity is provided on the route?”

Cllr Hughes said under the Passenger Carrying Vehicles licensing legislation the permitted standing capacity on the 60A is 28.

He said: “On average there are 12 standing passengers and we aren’t aware of any illegal overloading. While standing passengers are not ideal the ability to accommodate them within the prescribed limits does provide a legitimate and useful “safety valve” for loadings.”

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A bigger bus on the route had been considered, but rejected, given the route’s physical constraints, the available alternative vehicles and the financial implications. Cllr Hughes said: “Looking to the longer term, once Cranbrook is developed, the possibility of a better service between Ottery and Exeter is being explored.”

Cllr Giles then expressed concern about the younger, more vulnerable students using the bus, and asked Cllr Hughes if he would do all he could to try to resolve the situation. He replied he would be happy to meet with public transport officers to discuss it.