Residents of Bath are railing against potential cuts to bus services in their neighborhood which could leave people ‘stranded without access to transport’.
Some local bus routes are subsidized by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) as they are not viable as a commercial service. The authority is currently considering the renewal of some of these contracts.
Residents of Combe Down are among those who believe they could lose their local bus service – No 2. Councilors and the MP for Bath have called for subsidized contracts to be protected for a year, to avoid new service cuts.
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Combe Down councilor Dr Bharat Pankhania added: “The people of Combe Down are appalled at the threat to our essential bus service – number 2, which runs between Mulberry Park and the village of Combe Down to the center Many people – particularly vulnerable, frail and elderly people – do not have access to cars or cannot afford to drive one.
“Number 2 is also essential for children on their way to school. Living at the top of one of Bath’s steepest hills can isolate much of the community, many of whom rely on the bus to get to shops , services, employment or education.
“This is a classic example where a supported bus service makes a real difference. WECA must approve the deal to save supported bus services and put local public transport on a stable long-term footing. term.”
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Sarah Warren, Cabinet Member of the BANES Council for Climate and Sustainable Travel, said: “The Council has no direct control over private bus services. Almost all local buses are run by First West of England and supervised by WECA, as the regional transport authority, and only supported services are provided under contract.”
She added that the BANES Lib Dems supported the proposal to extend subsidized contracts to keep services running. “A lot of good ideas are being offered, such as ‘on-demand’ services, but these will take time to develop.
“If bus routes are canceled and there is a lack of supply, some people will be stranded without access to transport and others will give up and start making their journeys by car, creating a vicious cycle of congestion and increasing air pollution and declining public transport.”
BANES chief Kevin Guy said: “Our bus service system is fundamentally flawed – the Government’s talk of providing London-level transport systems across the country is a joke when the reality is that local services are increasingly at risk of cuts.
“Passenger numbers have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels and the industry is suffering from a severe shortage of drivers as well as rising fuel costs. I am working with Neighboring Councils and WECA to finding a financing solution that will keep local bus services running, but there is a limit to what emergency cash injections can accomplish.
“We need the government to step in and provide a long-term bus funding arrangement that will prevent the need for further cuts and support driver recruitment and retention.
“We also need the help of WECA and First Bus to get more people to use the buses, we are pushing for an urgent marketing campaign and a fare incentive program to bring passenger numbers back to normal levels. before the pandemic by this fall.”
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse also weighed in on the issue and said ‘Bath’s buses are in turmoil’. She added that the city needed a “long-term solution” to avoid further service cuts.
“We have plenty of evidence that the government’s approach is not working. I have continued to raise this issue in Parliament, but so far the Tories have refused to take action.
“I support my colleagues in Bath and North East Somerset to bring back Bath buses. The Conservative government has repeatedly refused to present a clear long-term plan for the future of our bus services. We need of a resolution we can rely on,” she said.
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