In this week’s column, I want to highlight and celebrate the delivery of a direct bus route from Woking to Ashford Hospital. This is something that I have been lobbying for, and campaigning for, for the past two years and I am delighted that, with terrific support from residents, my campaign has secured a successful outcome.

From December 4 2023, the 446 route will provide an extended direct bus service to Woking, Staines, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals, Hatton Cross Underground and Heathrow Terminal Four.

I want to say a massive thank you and well done to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and to White Bus for listening to residents and for delivering this new route. I have no doubt that it will be a great success and be of huge benefit to patients and to public transport users.

I held important talks with the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Trust and with Surrey County Council to explain and promote the need for such a route and I am thrilled that this fantastic new direct bus service from Woking to Ashford Hospital will now go ahead.

Over 3,000 local people backed my petition and campaign for this service and it will be of huge benefit to thousands more. It is particularly important given the increasing numbers of medical appointments that have been taking place at Ashford Hospital since Covid.

There has never been a more pressing time to improve the public transport network to our main local hospitals. Taxis to Ashford Hospital can be as expensive as £30 each way – so just one hospital appointment can cost upwards of £60 in terms of travel expense. For many, this cost is simply not affordable, and yet the current public transport journey can take well over an hour and can prove particularly difficult for the disabled and those with impaired mobility.

Readers will be aware that I have also recently helped to secure, and to double the funding for, a new state-of-the-art diagnostic hub at Woking Community Hospital. When opened next year, this new centre will save residents more than 30,000 trips a year to St Peter’s and Ashford Hospitals for a range of diagnostic tests, including CT, MRI, bone density, ultrasound, and audiology.

But with this terrific news about the bus route, when residents do still need to visit Ashford Hospital, they can do so via a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective bus service virtually to the hospital door. 

I am delighted that in just a few days, on Wednesday December 4, this new service will commence, and I have no doubt at all that it will be well used and much appreciated for many months and years to come.

A huge thank you once again to each of those thousands of residents who supported my petition and campaign for this much-needed new bus route.

By Jonathan Lord