Bus users demand First puts brakes on cuts to 38 and 178
Meanwhile, the 178, which runs from Bath to Bristol, will no longer travel through the Chandag Estate as part of its route through the town, changes designed to address issues of punctuality and reliability over the two-hour route, says First.
Both announcements have been met with anger from bus users across the town, who say elderly and less mobile residents will be badly affected, and petitions have been launched in a bid to keep the services running.
First held a consultation with bus users in May and June about services between Bristol and Bath in which people said they were happy with the level of provision but wanted to see improvements to punctuality and reliability.
In his petition opposing the loss of the 178 on the Chandag Estate, Mr Waite said: “First are cutting off a vital link to Keynsham town centre, Bristol and the rest of north east Somerset as a whole. Many people are unable to walk long distances to get a bus and could now feel isolated from the rest of the community.
“At a time when Keynsham as a town is growing at a rapid rate and people are being encouraged to use their cars less, we call on First West of England to reconsider these changes to the 178 bus service which will be detrimental to many residents.”
Speaking about the raft of changes being made across First’s Bristol and Bath network as of September 4, James Freeman, managing director of First West of England, said: “The changes in September are significant and affect almost everything we operate. Amongst the alterations there are a number of very positive pieces of news, for instance improvements to Sunday and public holiday timetables on a number of routes.”
He added: “It would be disingenuous to suggest it’s all good news though. We have had to make some hard choices – not something we like to do, but necessary nonetheless. Following years of growth and expansion it is right that we have done some housekeeping, to make sure we have the balance between what we operate, and what people are using, right.
“Where routes are poorly used they have been adjusted so that we can better deploy the resources elsewhere, enabling us to serve the greatest number of people. While difficult to digest if you are one of the few affected by this type of decision, the fact remains that we are a business, and we do have to make these tough choices to ensure the long-term viability of the whole network. Where areas have been left without services, we did discuss these matters in advance with the relevant local authorities, giving them the opportunity to consider what alternatives may need to be put in their place.”
As well as no longer serving the Chandag Estate, the Bath, Radstock, Midsomer Norton section of the 178’s route will be covered by a new 172 service along with the 173 and 174. The 178’s timetable is also changing so that buses will run every hour during the day from Monday to Saturday and, on Sundays and public holidays, there will be four journeys roughly three hours apart.
In other changes affecting the town, Service 39 is being increased from hourly to half-hourly, while on Sundays and holidays buses will run every 20 minutes in the daytime and hourly in the evenings.