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Bus investment announcement welcomed

Date published: 2023-02-24 | Category: Transport, Parking and Travel, Delivering for local residents

interior of bus

Bath & North East Somerset Council today welcomed news about additional investment for some buses in its area – but called for further clarity on rural routes.

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris announced a £7m package of improvements that will see First buses running at “turn up and go frequencies” during rush hour on five key West of England routes. In addition, First buses will run every 15 minutes on more main line routes that serve passengers changing from a ‘WEST link’ minibus from April. 

The Metro Mayor announced his ‘WEST link’ DRT plans in January and a report to the West of England Combined Authority Committee says that DRT will be deployed across the region from April 2023. The Mayor’s scheme would see people in the DRT zones booking minibuses in advance through telephone, website, or app.

Councillor Sarah Warren, deputy leader and cabinet member for climate and sustainable travel, said: “We welcome the increase in the number of buses serving the West of England due to operate from April and which the Mayor and First have announced today.  I’ve called previously for the Mayor to invest in ‘spine’ services that complement his proposed demand-responsive minibus services, such as to serve Keynsham, so it is good to see proposals from him that reflect this. However, we are still yet to hear from the Mayor about his plans to support spine routes in other areas within Bath and North East Somerset, particularly to serve the Chew Valley. The clock is ticking on the launch of his demand-responsive services. We urgently need clarification on how all these services fit together, and more engagement with local communities who rely on local buses.”

The B&NES areas that will see buses run to at least every 15 minutes from April are:

  • 1 serving Bath to Southdown
  • 5 serving Bath to Whiteway
  • 42/43 serving Bristol to Kingswood
  • x39/349/522 serving Keynsham, Brislington to Bristol
  • 173/174/522/379 (to be renumbered to 172) serving Midsomer Norton to Bath
  • 39/x39 serving Bath to Bristol
  • m2 serving Long Ashton P&R to Bristol
  • 376/379 (to be renumbered to 172) serving Temple Cloud to Bristol

All the details about the changes to services from April 2 can be found here on the First Bus website

Although the Combined Authority is the local transport authority for the area, Bath & North East Somerset Council has earmarked £280,000 from its own budget over and above what it already contributes to the WECA buses ‘pot’ - an approximate uplift of 36% in the supported bus services budget.

In Bath, where DRT will not be introduced, the council’s additional funding will safeguard current supported bus services:

Where DRT is being introduced in April, the council will continue to fund some supported services outside of Bath until June, to ease the transition to the new arrangements.


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