Today the new bus service for Whitchurch came into operation.It has received much discussion on this site, both in the Comments sections and also on the local social media, to such an extent that a local ‘campaign group’ known as WASPS has been formed against the changes. Views are mixed so it was decided to try out the route on the first ever service bus to use Lynch Hill Park, albeit on a relatively quiet Sunday.
The journey starts
All that aside today’s journey went without any hitches. The bright and clean single decker No.76 from Andover arrived just two minutes after its scheduled 0852 and was already carrying a couple of passengers. It left the Church Street stop, turned left into Bell Street and collected a couple more.
The first test
Then came the first real test as a car driver was wanting to exit Lower Evingar Road as the bus was to turn right, but with a little friendly negotiation all worked out. Parked cars up Evingar Road can cause difficulties but not today, with the bus stop pull in being conveniently reached as a 4 x 4 wanted to descend in the opposite direction. Another passenger boarded and now there were eight.
An ambulance on blues overtook just before the railway station, again with no difficulty.
Misleading bus stop
Stagecoach need to change the signage at their stop at the top of Newbury Road as it still states the 76 goes to the town centre, but of course under this new routing that is now incorrect. For the centre, buses in the opposite direction need to be taken; this will probably not ‘feel’ intuitive.
The first service bus along Lynch Hill Park.
At Dances Lane the bus driver let two vehicles out onto Newbury Road before turning left and then continued along Lynch Hill Park, driving well-within the 20mph limit. A single parked car caused no difficulties and he soon reached the B3400, where with a left turn the journey towards Overton was continued where the bus arrived on time.
It was all a rather normal uneventful bus journey, but missing that turn at the White Hart and the congestion along London Street / Road with its considerable on-road parking.
Of course there are many other changes including removal of most services in London Road, cuts to the 86 Winchester buses and reduced access to the Railway station. In addition today was a Sunday with low traffic, so, as they say, ‘time will tell’.
For now, the 76 route is on a trial and is being monitored.