Getting people back on the buses.

A huge fall in the number of people travelling on local bus services – over the last ten years – has been revealed in new research commissioned by the city’s MP Wera Hobhouse.

The data, which was provided on 24th May 2022 by the House of Commons Library shows that passenger numbers on local bus services in Bath plummeted from 12.1 million passenger journeys in 2019/20 to 2.9 million in 2020/21. 

Passenger numbers fluctuated between 2011/12 and 2019/20, with a high of 14.7 million passenger journeys in 2018/19. The South West experienced a similar trend with journeys plummeting from 198.9 million in 2019/20 to 70.1 million in 2020/21. 

The findings have sparked fresh calls for the Conservatives to outline a robust plan for the future of bus services in the region. Bath MP Wera Hobhouse has slammed the Government’s piecemeal approach. Under current plans, funding will run out by October. 

In March, the Government announced £150m funding nationwide to help fill the gap in funding up until October but this was slammed as inadequate. Locally, Bath & North East Somerset Liberal Democrat Council Leader Kevin Guy has proposed a lifeline for Bath buses with essential services at risk of being cut, initiated by West of England combined Authority Mayor Dan Norris. 

Wera Hobhouse MP commented: 

“Bath has been hit with several rounds of bus cuts because of the Conservatives’ failure to provide long-term certainty to bus companies. Bus companies are still struggling from the pandemic and they need support to plug the gap in passenger numbers whilst encouraging people to use public transport locally. 

“Bath’s buses are in turmoil. The pandemic has caused massive issues with passenger numbers and the Conservatives are failing to take notice. I have raised this issue with the Government on several occasions. We have seen cuts to the number 1, 2, 3, 3A and U1, U2, U5 and D2 buses. This is very unfair to the many Bath residents of all ages who rely on buses every day. 

“My local Liberal Democrat colleagues and I are calling for a long-term solution to prevent further cuts to services across Bath. We have ample evidence that the Government’s piecemeal approach is not working. The Conservative Government has refused time and time again to outline a clear long-term plan for the future of our bus services. We need a resolution we can rely on.”

Cllr Sarah Warren, said: 

“Bath and North East Somerset has no direct control over local bus services. Nearly all local bus services are run by First West of England and overseen by the West of England Combined Authority Mayor. 

“Our bus service system is fundamentally broken. The Conservative Government has failed to take the action needed to improve bus services across the country. Clearly, passenger numbers are still not back to pre-pandemic levels and the industry is suffering a severe driver shortage manufactured by the Government. 

“If bus routes are cancelled, and there is a gap in provision, some people will be stranded with no access to transport and others will give up and start making their journeys by car. This creates a vicious cycle of increasing congestion and air pollution and declining public transport. 

The data is from the House of Commons Library.

Please see the below table with statistics for Bath.