Bus system ‘broken says council leader

The Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Cllr Kevin Guy, has expressed dismay at planned cuts to bus services serving the area – and has called for a complete rethink of what he calls a ‘broken system.’

First Bus has announced that, from October 2022, it will no longer be running a number of bus services across Bath and North East Somerset. 

The services expected to be affected include bus numbers 11, 12, 20, 22, 42, 82, 171, 172 and 178, although some cuts will be mitigated by re-routed services and a proposed new service connecting Midsomer Norton, Paulton and Bristol.

Councillor Guy, said: “Bath & North East Somerset Council doesn’t run the bus service, but we understand the needs of residents and businesses and these cuts will have a significant impact on our local communities.

“Residents recognise the pressures on bus companies – particularly rising costs and driver shortages – and the work that has taken place to try and keep services going. However, this announcement is dismaying – all we are hearing is “cuts, cuts, cuts”, particularly in our rural bus services.

“The current bus system is obviously broken. Local people face losing vital services, with no alternatives being provided, all as the cost of living continues to soar. So, we are now urgently calling for a coordinated, imaginative long-term approach to public transport in our area, that provides local people with access to the work, health, and leisure facilities they need, and which contributes to our climate emergency goals.

“We are also requesting that First Bus delay any planned changes until suitable alternatives to the cuts in services are agreed upon. I am willing to meet with the West of England Combined Authority, operators, and others again to help make this happen.

Photo (L – R): Councillor Kevin Guy, Leader of the Council and Councillor Sarah Warren, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate and Sustainable Travel.

Councillor Sarah Warren, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate and Sustainable Travel, said: “Despite the government’s last-minute funding announcement on 19 August, over a week later we are seeing yet more planned cuts.  It is not just about funding, but about how services are planned and co-ordinated, providing the stability needed to recruit drivers and provide confidence in an integrated, functioning public transport system.  We urgently need fresh thinking and would welcome trialling new ideas, such as demand responsive transport, which could then be integrated with frequent and reliable ‘core’ routes.

“I fully expect the West of England Metro Mayor and his team to work more closely with local communities, who know their areas best, to shape these services.  We ran our own engagement event on bus services last week, and we will continue to speak up for our area on this.  Please have your say on our bus services, either through our survey or respond directly to the Metro Mayor’s ‘big choices on buses’ conversation, both of which are open online until 31 August.”

To complete the council’s bus survey, please visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BNESBusConsult.

To have your say on the Metro Mayor’s big choices on buses conversation, visit www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/big-choices-on-buses.