Cuts to certain bus routes could be on the cards as B&NES reviews the provision of services it supports financially.
The Council funds a number of them under contracts that are due to end during 2018, and is assessing them prior to carrying out a competitive tender process.
The management of these contracts is jointly undertaken with the West of England Combined Authority, although all funding is currently provided by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
Roughly 90% of bus services in Bath and North East Somerset are operated on a commercial basis. In 2017/18, the Council spent £1.1 million on bus services that are not provided by the commercial operators.
Over £400,000 of this came from contributions made by developers or other third parties. These contributions are used to directly support services or improve frequencies and connections on existing services, and the Council will actively look for opportunities to increase such outside contributions where possible.
Councillor Mark Shelford, (Conservative Lyncombe), Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment, said: “To help us make decisions on the future of these services we are seeking the views of residents and users of the services as to the best and most appropriate way to proceed.
“No decisions over any of the routes have been made and the Council has no preferences over the various options at this stage. This is an open consultation and we want to hear everyone’s views. The responses will help us develop the detail of specifications for any contracts that are re-tendered.
“Although bus operators are not obliged to consult users before making changes to their commercial route network, the Council is keen to hear the views of users on the services it supports financially, to help inform its decisions.”
Responding to the need for change
Bath & North East Somerset Council faces a number of changes, opportunities and challenges over the next two years as it seeks to re-shape itself in light of continuing national policy change, increases in demand for key services, rising costs and the need to become financially more self-sufficient as the grant from national Government reduces.
The Council is already in the process of saving £27 million, and announced £15 million of savings in last year’s budget. However, we now have to save a further £16 million by 2020.
This means that the Council has to prioritise how to spend the public funding it has available to it.
The Council is publishing details of all the supported bus services involved, and setting out potential options for how we might make changes. There are options to redesign services to save money, or withdraw services if there are more efficient options available or if the services do not offer good value for money.
The bus services being consulted on are:
- Services 2, 6A, 8, 9, 265: Evening Services in Bath
- Service 20A/C: Bath Circular services
- Service 82/82A: Paulton – Westfield – Radstock Tyning
- Service 172: Bath – Midsomer Norton – Paulton (evenings)
- Service 179: Bath – Timsbury – Radstock – Writhlington (evenings and Sundays)
- Service 672 & 67: Blagdon- Bristol via Bishop Sutton, Chew Magna, and Dundry
- Service 768: Clutton – Radstock – Timsbury – Englishcombe – Bath
- Service A4: Early morning service from Chandag Estate in Keynsham
For all services, the Council intends that fares will be aligned with commercial fare levels in the area, and consideration will be given to offering bus service operators the opportunity to raise fares to make services viable. All consultees are invited to submit their views on specific issues such as timetabling, routing, frequency, fares, or any other matter affecting one or more of the individual services.
Further details are available on the Council website: www.bathnes.gov.uk/consultations/public-consultation-contracts-supported-bus-services where people can also take part in the consultation.
The consultation has also been directly sent to local ward councillors, parish and town councils, bus operators, and stakeholders including bus user groups.
People are being asked to submit any comments, proposals, or suggestions by Wednesday 31st January 2018, either through the online consultation or via email firstname.lastname@example.org so that these can be considered when decisions are made on the future of the services.