Lib Dems Save 94 Bus from Trowbridge to Bath

29 February 2024

The Lib Dems have had a major win in our ongoing fight to restore regular, reliable bus services to North East Somerset. B&NES Council has secured funding for the 94 bus, a vital rural service linking villages between Bath and Trowbridge. The victory follows the campaign led by Lib Dem Cllr Fiona Gourley (Bathavon South). So far, over 1,300 residents have signed the petition to save rural buses. The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) sits on £57m for public transport but has axed most rural bus routes in North East Somerset.

Lib Dem-run B&NES Council has secured funding to match Wiltshire Council’s support which will enable the 94 bus from Bath to Trowbridge to continue serving residents in Westwood, Limpley Stoke, Freshford and Monkton Combe, including several schools and the University of Bath. Wiltshire Council has been funding the service in its entirety since West of England Combined Authority (WECA) stopped funding it a year ago.

Lib Dem Cllr Fiona Gourley, Member Advocate for Rural Communities and a Councillor for Bathavon South Ward, which includes Freshford and Monkton Combe said: “I would like to thank everyone who joined me to lobby so hard for this vital service. Over 1300 people have signed my rural bus petition, including many along the route of the 94. I have heard from so many people, including elderly residents ringing in tears, desperately worried about the loss of their buses, and the negative impact on their lives.

“I am relieved that B&NES Council has secured the funding and thank Wiltshire Council for their patience in continuing to keep the service running. Now we need to restore regular rural public transport to the rest of North East Somerset, using some of the £57m grant that WECA has for bus services. Regular, reliable, rural transport is vital for younger and older people alike, and for those who do not want to or cannot use private cars for health, financial, and environmental reasons.”

Parish Councillors in villages whose residents rely on the 94 bus applauded the news. Councillor Julian Carpenter, who is responsible for Highways and Transport for Freshford Parish Council said: “Parish councillors and residents have campaigned to keep the 94 bus running and we are delighted to hear that it will continue to serve the village. For some Freshford residents the 94 bus is an essential service with no alternative options – whether that’s for getting to school, college, work, or appointments. It’s a lifeline for some in the village and a vital community amenity.”

Councillor Des Wighton, Chair of Monkton Combe Parish Council said “Residents and workers use this service to get into Bath and Trowbridge. It is invaluable, and now it is secure, we will work closely with communities along the route to encourage more people to use the 94 as this is better for the environment, the economy, and their health.”

Campaigners including Freshford residents, led by Cllr Gourley (at the end at right), gather at Keynsham to lobby WECA to restore regular buses, including the 94.

Join our campaign to save rural buses by adding your name to this cross-party petition:

There is a bus crisis across rural North East Somerset affecting at least 40,000 people. Many of us feel angry, isolated and frustrated as we struggle to get to education, work, healthcare, shopping, and other vital appointments, because we have lost our regular buses, cannot rely on "Westlink", and can’t or don’t want to depend on cars, taxis, friends or family.

The WECA Mayor, Dan Norris, is the Transport Authority. He has £57m to spend and the Government’s permission to support regular buses. B&NES has already given WECA £1m towards supported buses this year and sent a cost-effective, innovative proposal for a regular network to reconnect residents in stranded villages. It would only take around £2m per year to restore the lost buses but Dan Norris has refused our plan, calling it “Bus Bingo”. Instead, he is wasting millions of pounds on cosmetic branding (£4m) and free Birthday Buses (£8m).

Please sign this bus petition to tell the WECA Mayor that the loss of rural transport in NES is no game to us. Public transport is an essential service for everyone living in our rural communities and an important way to tackle the climate emergency. Tell him to stop wasting money on paint jobs and free tickets for people with buses and to restore reliable public transport in North East Somerset now.