Proposed cuts to local bus services – due to come into effect on 30 January 2022 – have been mitigated following intensive work between local authorities and bus companies.
Some proposed cuts have been cancelled, including the number 8 (Kingsway) and number 178 (Radstock to Bristol) services, which will continue unamended for now. However, some other local services will see amended routes, stops and timetables.
Lib Dems are warning that local bus operators still face difficulties from the continuing impact of the pandemic and the end of government financial support in April.
The Lib Dems are working hard to push for better bus services locally, including pressing the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to adopt an ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan, lobbying government and highlighting the powers and funding needed to improve services.
Councillor Sarah Warren, Cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Transport, said:
“We’ve been working hard with the West of England Combined Authority and with First Bus to minimise the impact of proposed bus service changes this month.
“We’re pleased that the timetable changes have been revised from the initial proposals and that some vital services, such as the numbers 8 and 178 buses, have been protected.
“However, the fact remains that local bus services are still struggling, due to the pandemic and the lack of passenger confidence and Government support to operators is still due to end in three months.
“We have called for the Government to continue funding the Bus Recovery Grant beyond March 2022 or else introduce a new funding scheme to support bus operators during the next phase of the pandemic.
“So many people rely on a safe, reliable bus to access shops, services, employment, and education, yet the Council has no direct control over services.
“We will continue to fight for our local buses, working with WECA and the Mayor to protect vital community and rural services as well as lobbying Government for necessary funding to support bus services through the pandemic.”
Councillor Dine Romero, Cabinet member responsible for public health, added:
“It’s a legal requirement for passengers on public transport to wear a face covering, unless exempt. However, there is evidence that many people are not doing so, putting potential passengers off.
“We’re repeating our call for residents to wear their masks and help keep themselves and others safe on public transport.”
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, said:
“I'm pleased that some cuts have been mitigated thanks to the work of Bath and North East Somerset Council and the bus companies.
"The Government must now step up to prevent further cuts to important routes across Bath and North East Somerset. The Transport Minister has so far refused to accept the correct passenger numbers. She has refused to engage in helping to stop the cuts to buses in Bath and I will continue to lobby to keep Bath's buses.
"I am meeting with Dan Norris on Friday to continue our work in pressuring the Government to step up."
See "Government must step up to save Bath's buses: Efforts to save bus cuts are doubled" for a report back from the meeting with Mayor Dan Norris.