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REPORT WRITTEN BY

CHARLIE ROPER SU PRESIDENT

EMMA BROWN

COMMUNITY & REPRESENTATION MANAGER


CONTENTS Introduction

2

Background

3

Methodology

4

Bus User Consultation Results

5

Non Bus User Consultation Results

25

User Groups

27

Conclusion and Recommendations

32

Appendix A (Bus User Survey)

33

Appendix B (Non-Bus User Survey)

37

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INTRODUCTION The University and the Students’ Union work in partnership with an aim to offer the best possible environment and experience to encourage students to perform to their full potential and enjoy their time in education. We know that students play a critical part in the evaluation, development and enhancement of the quality of this experience. For many years, through surveys such as the Student Experience Survey, our Student Reps and through other channels, the topic of buses and travelling has been highlighted as an issue. In response to this feedback, we wanted to explore more widely the issue and delve deeper into finding out what students want from a bus service.

INTRODUCTION

This report shows the findings of this work and recommends what students would like to see in a bus service.

Charlie Roper UWE Students’ Union President

Steve West UWE Vice Chancellor

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BACKGROUND For many years, student feedback has focused heavily on the journey to and from university when travelling by bus. Students expressing frustration did not seem to have a real outlet for feedback as much of it was anecdotal. As a result of this feedback the Students’ Union and the institution launched a consultation with the aim of obtaining wider student and staff voice, and highlighting the aspects of a bus service that should be prioritised. The primary aim of this consultation is to improve the bus service for students and staff at the University of the West of England. ‘The Only Way is Wessex?’ was a joint consultation run by UWE Students’ Union President, Charlie Roper and UWE’s Vice Chancellor, Steve West. It is believed that the joint approach used in this consultation is the best way of introducing improvements and highlighting the elements that students praise. The consultation set out to review how Wessex buses could better serve students and staff. In January 2014, UWE Students’ Union and UWE invited a team of interested volunteers to speak to students at the launch of ‘The Only Way is Wessex?’ At the launch, whilst students were waiting for

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their buses, it became clear that there was mass frustration towards Wessex buses and students’ journeys to and from campuses. Following the consultation’s launch, two surveys which set out to gather opinions from both bus users and non-bus users saw 1024 responses, whilst two user groups made up of 11 students shared opinion and validated this feedback. ‘The Only Way is Wessex?’ report presents the findings of the consultation, together with UWE Students’ Union and UWE’s ideas and context around them - what we believe should change and what should be prioritised for students. At the end of this report, UWE Students’ Union and UWE makes recommendations for the next steps. It is important that stakeholders meet to discuss these recommendations and to address the issues raised by students.


METHODOLOGY The Bus User Consultation concerned itself with both student and staff travel patterns and focused on their journey. This was an online survey. The survey focused on a series of questions, which captured a range of information on reliability, customer service, quality of vehicle and so on. The Non-Bus User Consultation, also online, focused on why students or staff did not use the bus services. Both surveys were run for 3 months and were promoted via social media channels, face to face with tablets and through websites. All questions from the Bus User Consultation can be seen in Appendix A. All questions from the Non-Bus User Consultation can be seen in Appendix B. The results of Bus User Consultations were followed up by 2 user groups, brought together to further explore students’ experiences of the bus service as well as to validate the results gathered by the consultation.

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CONSULTATION FINDINGS AND REVIEW As described in the methodology the consultations were split into bus users and non-bus users. 904 responses were received for the bus user consultation and 120 responses for the non- bus user consultation. As with any consultation, it is important to understand the demographics of those responding. With this in mind the consultation gathered feedback to a few basic demographic questions. The 904 responses of the bus user consultation will be considered first in this report. 26 responses have been eliminated due to the users travelling by First bus rather than Wessex services.

BUS USER CONSULTATION As you would expect with a consultation published mainly by the Students’ Union, the majority of respondents were UWE Students with 96% identifying as a student. 4% of respondents identified as UWE staff. Students and staff travelling to all campuses responded (Figure 1), providing a real insight into the different service provision.

WHERE

IS YOUR NORMAL PLACE OF S 5


FIGURE 1

16.5% BOWER ASHTON CAMPUS

7.4% ST MATTHIAS CAMPUS

8.4% GLENSIDE CAMPUS

67.7%

FRENCHAY CAMPUS

STUDY/WORK? 6


ON AVERAGE,

500

HOW OFTEN DO YOU NORMALLY USE THE BUS SERVICE DURING TERM TIME? 400

5

300

4

200

3

100

0 DAYS A WEEK

7

DAYS A WEEK

DAYS A WEEK


FIGURE 2

Depsite the large number of student responses it was interesting to find that 55% of respondents still use the service outside of term time (Figure 2).

For a number of years the Wessex service has operated different timetables inside and outside of term time. The consultation sought to establish whether there was any difference in opinion of the timetable for those people using the bus service all year round.

2 DAYS A WEEK

1 DAY A WEEK

Less THAN WEEKLY

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HOW SUITABLE IS THE TIMETABLE FOR YOUR NEEDS? DO YOU USE A BUS SERVICE OUTSIDE OF TERM TIME? YES

NO

AVERAGE

1.5%

1.3%

1.4%

27.3%

30.1%

28.6%

54.3%

51.9%

53.2%

16.9%

16.6%

16.8%

EXCEEDS MY NEEDS

ADEQUATE

COULD BE IMPROVED

DOES NOT MEET MY NEEDS

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FIGURE 3


As seen in Figure 3, there was very little variation in the opinions of those using the bus service inside and outside of term time, despite the increase in service during term time. It is important to note that despite the results from both groups being similar, overall 53.2% users thought that the timetable could be improved and 16.8% thought that the timetable did not meet their needs.

30% of respondents thought that the timetable was adequate or exceeded needs.

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During the consultation, respondents were invited to provide comment as to why the timetable does not meet their needs; 531 people chose to comment. When analysed further it was clear that the comments fit into some distinctive themes. Figure 4 shows the breakdown of these themes and the number of people with corresponding comments.

FIGURE 4

19 Bus doesn’t turn up

Punctuality (either early or late)

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305

Overcrowded

7 Miscellaneous comment

11

175

General timetable issue


It is much better than it used to be, but there are still gaps in the timetable particularly in the early morning and later evening and at weekends. Also the timetables tend to mean that you get a number of buses at once and then a gap. The reduced service in holidays can make life difficult for staff who don’t start and finish at the ‘normal’ times”

Buses stop quite early in the evening, removing it as an option for going to and from town” Also week days service starts after 6am, so we need to use first bus. sometime on weekends we have to do placements and it would have been nicer if we had bus services running till last 9pm” Also week days service starts after 6am, so we need to use first bus. sometime on weekends we have to do placements and it would have been nicer if we had bus services running till last 9pm”

Poor Sunday and late evening service” The internet timetable and bus stop timetables don’t match up so you can often miss buses because the times aren’t right.” (Comments as submitted)

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It is clear from the comments around timetabling that students would like buses that ran later into the evening, to allow for more flexible study arrangements. Students would also like to see an extended service at the weekend to allow for campus study. Some of the comments specifically mentioned the library being 24 hours on Frenchay Campus but the bus service not reflecting this. Other comments indicated that students on placement from Glenside found it particularly difficult to use the bus service

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due to service coverage and the timetable operational times which do not fit with shift patterns. A common theme across these comments was the difference between the printed information available at bus stops and the online versions of the timetables, which respondents highlighted did not match in many cases.


Timetable itself is mostly fine but the buses rarely follow the times printed.” It was also clear from the 175 comments that some users found the punctuality of the buses more of a barrier than the timetable itself, with comments citing frequently late buses, and some users suggesting there is no need to use the timetable as the buses don’t follow them. Direct quotes included: There is no timetable, buses turn

It is rare that the bus ever arrives

up when they want are frequently

on time. I have asked the driver multiple

extremely late with the drivers no even

times the cause of his lateness, and the

acknowledging they are late. Often the

answer is always ‘traffic’, although other

first scheduled bus for the day has not

buses (eg First buses) seem to manage

turned up and I have been late to student

to run on time through all the ‘traffic’. If

ambassador work on 3 occasions because

traffic really is an issue, it would be good

of this. There are not enough buses at

if the timetable could be adjusted to allow

peak times, for example I get the bus at

for this, and help us stop wasting up to an

half 8 every friday and the bus is always

hour waiting for late buses, making us late

packed and often cannot pick any more

for lectures.”

passengers up. We need more busses scheduled for busy times.”

The bus is never on time, most of the time it does not turn up. I rely on his service for work and placement

The timetable does not seem to

throughout UNI and therefore is

be followed by the number 13. I have

unreliable it causes many disruptions to

been stood waiting at the bus stop for

my shift patterns and is extremely difficult

40 minutes, in which time 3 buses were

to rely on.”

supposed to have come.”

A smaller number of comments related to overcrowding of the services specifically, though this was mentioned in a number of other comments about timetabling and punctuality. In these comments there was also a small number that praised the timetable such as:

The timetable is fine, according to the timetable buses are quite regular and I have no issues with that.”

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HOW RELIABLE DO YOU THINK THE SERVICE IS? DO YOU USE A BUS SERVICE OUTSIDE OF TERM TIME? YES

NO

AVERAGE

1.5%

1.1%

1.3%

10.8%

9.3%

10.1%

33.0%

39.2%

35.7%

54.8%

50.4%

52.8%

VERY RELIABLE

RELIABLE

SOMEWHAT RELIABLE

VERY UNRELIABLE

FIGURE 5 15


Once again it is clear from the results that there is little difference between the opinions of those who use the service inside and outside of term time. Those using the service in term time only were generally more favourable when expressing their opinion on reliability.

4% fewer respondents ranked the service as very unreliable compared to those who use it outside of term time. From the results it is clear that over 50% respondents see the bus service as very unreliable.

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During the consultation, respondents were asked for reasons as to why they considered the service to be very unreliable; 594 comments were received. As with the comments on the timetable, comments have been analysed and fit into some distinct categories as seen in Figure 6.

FIGURE 6

123

Bus doesn’t turn up

9 Bus left early

13 Driver issues

17

407 Bus left late

13 Overcrowded

29 Miscellaneous

These distinct categories have been derived from the nature of the comments, however it is worth noting that many of the comments could fall under more than one category. For this report the comments have been grouped according to the first statement respondents have made, rather than counting comments in more than one category.


As shown in Figure 6, over half the comments relate to the buses being late, with quotes such as:

It’s extremely unlikely that a bus will turn up on time, Its now normal for me to wait up to 50 minutes for a bus to arrive.”

The buses are almost never on time; this is not an exaggeration. The 11 in particular is extremely poor and can often be over half an hour late or simply not show up at all. The service is, on the whole, laughably unreliable.”

I’ve waited over 40 minutes on several occasions, the timetable doesn’t mean anything. Worst run bus service I have ever experienced.”

The busses are often late with no update to what is happening and you can often see them chatting to other drivers while the bus you are waiting for is parked across the road.”

(Comments as submitted)

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Over 100 respondents chose to comment about buses not turning up, however as noted previously, this was commonly a secondary comment to those people mentioning punctuality of the bus service. Comments about buses not turning up included:

Roughly 50 percent of the

Several times I’ve waited over

time the bus will not turn up, and

an hour for a bus when they’re

often 2-3 buses won’t turn up,

meant to be every 20 minutes.

meaning I am waiting at the bus

You can guarantee the bus to be at

stop sometimes for an hour. I have

least ten minutes late.”

missed countless lectures, or been late to them because of this.” Sometimes buses seem to disappear from the timing screens randomly and do not turn up.”

As represented in Figure 6, a small number of comments were received relating to the buses being early, driver issues or over crowing. The consultation also sought feedback on the service received from the drivers. In the past we know that all stakeholders have worked hard to deliver a comprehensive training package for drivers, to ensure they understand their primarily student customer base. Figure 7 shows the response received was on the whole positive, with over 44% of respondents rating the service received as “excellent” or “good” and 42% rating “average”. 14% of respondents rated the service they received from the drivers as “poor”. Respondents were invited to comment further about the service they had received from drivers, particularly if they had rated the service as “poor”, 261 comments were received. As with previous comments there were distinct themes arising from the responses, such as the number of drivers standing around the Frenchay bus stops taking their breaks, smoking and chatting, driver attitude towards customers and in some cases their driving style.

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It would be inappropriate in a report to highlight some of the comments individually so we have made the full comments available, upon request, to UWE and Wessex.

Since the introduction of the bus service there has been a large investment in the number and quality of the buses serving the Wessex routes. This is reflected in the results of the consultation with 91% of respondents either being satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of vehicles provided. Many of the comments received about the quality of vehicles reflected overcrowding and the request for double decker buses on some routes rather than the quality of the vehicles specifically.

Perhaps one of the most interesting questions in the consultation was “Do you think the bus service has been designed with students in mind?�

FIGURE 7 20


DOTHEYOU THINK BUS SERVICES HAVE BEEN DESIGNED WITH STUDENTS IN MIND? FIGURE 8

49 % NO

51% YES

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Figure 8 shows opinion was divided with regard to whether the service has been designed with students in mind. Respondents were given the opportunity to state reasons for their answer as part of the consultation. Those that stated that they thought the service has been designed for students cited reasons such as:

The routes satisfy prime locations for students amongst the city, though more services could be provided.” Good value for money, just need to improve timing.” You can pay for passes on a term by term basis rather than all upfront.”

Student style service, not on time etc.” Its cheaper than First.” Because they go to the places students need to go to. .. and because I believe this service is of sub-standard quality which you wouldn’t expect non-students to put up with.” (Comments as submitted)

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Those who stated that they thought the service had not been designed with students in mind gave reasons such as:

As students we need to attend lectures, workshops and various other events or deadlines. Wessex Red dont seem to take that into consideration and I have been late to lectures because of it.”

A bit of both tbh. However some drivers think that because they are taking students that they can treat students unkindly, re attitude. However the service is timetabled regularly (it would be better if they could keep to it though!), and the prices are subsidised.”

The service and timetable is designed to meet students needs but Wessex are not fulfilling those needs. By continually dismissing the fact that they are often late and overcrowded, they are showing that they are not a customer-focused service.”

They only suit students that always finish before 5 and start at 9. The number 13 bus services a health care campus and has students living on campus that do placements though cannot get into the city centre as it is the only service available to us. And it begins just before 7am on monday to saturday which is when most shifts start. The weekend services are not designed with any students in mind either.”

(Comments as submitted)

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The final question asked respondents to describe their most recent journey, 741 of those asked chose to do this. Further analysis of these descriptions has been carried out to categorise the responses into a positive or negative journey. 511 responses described a negative experience, citing late buses, services not turning up and largely mirroring the issues stated in previous questions about reliability. 216 respondents described a positive journey with the buses being on time and some people commenting on a pleasant journey. 14 comments were discounted as they did not relate to the question.

As part of the consultation process we also invited non bus users to complete a survey to gather feedback as to why they did not travel to campus by bus. There has been a large effort, over a number of years, to encourage students and staff to travel to campus by more sustainable methods of transport such as bus or bike (managed through the TravelSmart programme). The separation of a non-bus user survey allows us to analyse the reasons why people choose not to use the bus service and draw recommendations from these results to inform future work.

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NON-BUS USER CONSULTATION The Non-Bus User consultation was run alongside the bus user consultation to gather opinions from those people not using the Wessex services (see Appendix B). Some of those responding to the consultation travel to campus by alternative, sustainable means such as walking or cycling, however 52% travel to campus by car. In the consultation it was important to research how many of these car users could easily be bus users if their experiences and perceptions of the bus service were improved. Of the 62 car users who responded to the consultation; 37% use buses for other nonUWE journeys, 63% do not use buses for other journeys. Respondents were given the opportunity to comment as to why they don’t use the Wessex service to get to campus. All 62 respondents also made a comment as to why they don’t use the service. Figure 9 categorises these comments to assess reasons why buses aren’t used to travel to and from campus.

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FIGURE 9

From the comments it is clear that many respondents have used Wessex previously, resulting in some of the negative views around reliability and cost, preferring to use other methods of transport to guarantee punctuality. From both the Bus User Consultation and the Non-Bus User Consultation it is clear that there is a perception of Wessex being unreliable; either from buses failing to turn up or the punctuality of services. In order to validate the results of the consultations two user groups were formed.

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USER GROUPS Two user groups made up of 11 students, from a diverse range of backgrounds, met twice to share opinions and validate the feedback that had been collected through the consultation. The following section outlines the discussions that took place and how they relate to the survey feedback and in some cases provide a more detailed view of customer experiences.

MEETING ONE: In the first meeting, the group were asked why they volunteered to take part in the feedback process. This helped obtain a wider understanding of the group’s frustrations. Many comments were given, but key ones which arose were:

I’m a student parent who catches the bus with my little girl. I have to wait around for a long time with my girl. I was also once injured playing rugby, and due to waiting so long for a bus, I had to fight to get on with a wheelchair.” I’m more stressed about getting a bus to university than for the exams when I get there.”

I pay annually for a pass, for a bus service that never shows up!”

It was clear that there was much frustration about the service; echoing the findings of the Bus User Consultation. The key themes from initial discussions were bus overcrowding, due to a gathering of people as no buses were showing up, an unreliable service as a result. The prices of Wessex were not considered favourable

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The group were then asked, in break-off groups, to list good and bad points about the service from their collective experiences. The collated data shows the following:

FIGURE 10

. A slightly better service than last year . The buses are good quality vehicles . Good coverage of North Bristol’s student hotspots

. Unreliable and late . Not frequent enough . Not always safe driving . No joint Wessex/Wessex Red ticketing . They stop to have food en route . Buses are late as drivers stop to smoke or talk to other drivers . Need more buses running later and at peak times

The bad points clearly outweigh the good points. After lengthy discussion on each individual’s experiences and the good and bad points, the user group discussed and drew what their perfect bus service would be like. This was to be able to give a notion of what ideas the user group had and would want to see in a service. An example can be seen in Figure 11.

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FIGURE 11 29


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MEETING TWO: The second meeting began with a quick update on the results so far. The first group were asked to validate the results and responses were given. An example of one of the questions is: “68% of respondents said the timetable could be improved or does not meet their needs, with many people citing the reason as the buses are often late or don’t turn up. From your user surveys so far, have you found the bus journeys you have recorded to be on time?” Comments throughout the meeting shadowed those of the results and the previous user group meeting. These included issues such as timetabling, punctuality, lack of consistency, and lack of feedback systems. It was noted here that students were not receiving responses from the text feedback system or Twitter. The user group members each were tasked with noting down the advertised bus time and the time printed on their ticket for any journeys they took with Wessex Red services. There were 33 recorded bus journeys, of which 21 were recorded as late. Out of the 21, 17 were more than five minutes late. 5 of the 33 were early. There were 3 buses on time, 1 did not show up and 3 were unknown (no advertised time for example). This re-confirms the perceptions of the Bus User consultation.

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CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS In conclusion this report there are many students wanting to and willing to give feedback on the services currently provided by Wessex. We know that improvements have been made to the service since its introduction, however it is clear there is still a strong feeling of dissatisfaction amongst the student body. From the results of the consultation the following recommendations are made: 1. A service that runs later into the evening to accommodate the differing study modes of students and the extra-curricular activities they may partake in. 2. A service that runs more regularly at weekends. 3. A consideration about the scope of the service, should it cater for students on placement at local hospitals in the start times? 4. Consistency between online and printed timetables including the use of the “next bus� screens across stops. 5. Wessex to monitor the punctuality of services and make termly reports available to the student body. 6. Wessex to monitor the number of services which have not run and make termly reports available to the student body. 7. Wessex to commit to acknowledging student feedback when received by text, through their website or by twitter. 8. Wessex to evaluate and monitor effectiveness of services changes through annual student stakeholder research. We look forward to working together with Wessex to take forward the recommendations and create a bus service that UWE students value.

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APPENDIX A - BUS USER CONSULTATION THE ONLY WAY IS WESSEX? - BUS SURVEY The Only Way is Wessex? is a joint consultation run by UWE Students’ Union’s President, Charlie Roper, and UWE’s Vice Chancellor, Steve West. In response to your feedback, we are undertaking a consultation to review how Wessex Buses can better serve you. We will use your survey responses and user groups to explore the issues and then follow through with detailed discussions with the transport operators.

1) What is your status at UWE? Student Staff

2) Where is your normal place of study/work? Frenchay Campus Glenside Campus St Matthias Campus Bower Ashton Campus

3) What is your term time postcode or term time location? Eg. Gloucester Road

Your Journey

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4) What is your primary way of travelling to campus? Wessex Red Wessex Bus First Bus

5) On average, how often do you normally use the bus service during term time? 5 days a week 4 days a week 3 days a week 2 days a week 1 day a week Less than weekly

6) Do you use a bus service outside of term time? Yes No

7) What number service do you use?

Your Service

8) How suitable is the timetable for your needs? Exceeds my needs Adequate Could be Improved Does not meet my needs

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9) If the timetable does not meet your needs, please explain why?

10) How reliable do you think the service is? Very reliable Reliable Somewhat reliable Very unreliable

11) If you think the service is very unreliable, please explain why?

12) How happy are you with the service you receive from the driver(s)? Excellent service Good service Average service Poor service

13) If you think you receive a poor service, please explain why?

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14) How satisfied are you with the quality of vehicles provided? Very satisfied Satisfied Not satisfied

15) If you are not satisfied, please explain why?

16) Do you think the bus services have been designed with students in mind? Yes No

17) Why?

18) Finally, please describe your most recent journey? (Eg. How punctual was your service)

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APPENDIX B - NON-BUS USER CONSULTATION THE ONLY WAY IS WESSEX? - NON BUS SURVEY The Only Way is Wessex? is a joint consultation run by UWE Students’ Union’s President, Charlie Roper, and UWE’s Vice Chancellor, Steve West. In response to your feedback, we are undertaking a consultation to review how Wessex Buses can better serve you. We will use your survey responses and user groups to explore the issues and then follow through with detailed discussions with the transport operators.

1) What is your status at university? Student Staff

2) Where is your normal place of study/work? Frenchay campus Glenside campus St Matthias campus Bower Ashton campus

3) What is your term time postcode or term time location? Eg. Gloucester Road

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Your Journey

4) What is your primary way of travelling to campus? Car Cycle Train Other (Please Specify)

5) How often do you travel to campus during term time? 5 days a week 4 days a week 3 days a week 2 days a week 1 day a week Less than weekly

6) Do you use the bus services for other journeys (not to UWE)? Yes No

7) Why do you choose not to use the Wessex Bus service for travel to UWE?

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DESIGNED BY CHUN SEIAN LIEW (SEAN)

WWW.BEHANCE.NET/SEANLIEW If you would like further information about this report please email supresident@uwe.ac.uk @CharlieRoper

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TheOnlyWayIsWessexReport