Service seems immune to alteration

I WOULD like to raise the issue of First Bus's apparent infatuation with service number 7 in Weston.

I WOULD like to raise the issue of First Bus's apparent infatuation with service number 7 in Weston. This service seems to be immune to alteration, no matter what sacrifices are made of other services in the town.

The leaflets available on the buses prior to the latest alterations (and fare increases, which were advertised much closer to the date on which they were applied) stated that some of these changes aim to improve reliability and punctuality, others would make their timetables more consistent.

Some services had their contracts awarded to other companies by the local authorities. On the same leaflet, under the heading 'Service 5/5A/5B' it states in addition that 'the frequency of buses is also changing to better match current customer demand'.

These reasons meant that service 5/5A/5B (the only weekday daytime town service to serve the hospital, and thus much needed by many patients and visitors alike) has been cut from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes. To prevent these remaining few buses standing idle for 10 minutes at the end of each round trip an extra leg has been added to the Worle end of the route running from Sainsbury's to Worle Rail Station and back. This would appear to make nonsense of both their reasoning and their economic appraisal of the situation.


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If 'current customer demand' is truly the reason for their keeping six service 7s while reducing the service 5/5B to only two buses during the daytime on Mondays to Saturdays then surely there must be three times as many passengers carried on the number 7 route that on the 5/5B route, so it would seem to make more sense to extend the route of the buses that carry most passengers and which are therefore more likely to carry passengers wanting to go to or from Worle Rail Station.

I have spoken to a few drivers on the number 5 buses and none of them have dropped off or collected any passengers at the station yet. This means that diesel fuel is being used but very little or no income is generated for the company on this extension of the route.

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They also say that not enough time has been allowed for them to travel from Sainsbury's to, then get into and out of the station, and return to the Sainsbury's stop which makes this service less punctual rather than more so.

I accept that there are some peak times when service 7 buses are used to capacity such as between 8 and 9am when carrying students attending Priory School and people employed in the area around Sainsbury's, but one lunchtime last week I was waiting for a number 5/5B to Worle at the stop by MacDonald's in Regent Street and three number 7 buses arrived and left before the number 5/5B arrived.

The number 7s left with a total of six passengers between them, one on one bus, two on another and three on the third bus, while the number 5 left with 18 passengers aboard.

It seems as though the service 7 is being 'protected' by the company at any cost. If First Bus would publish the average number of passengers carried per bus on each of their routes I very much doubt that these figures would show a need for three times as many service 7s as service 5/5Bs.

Income as opposed to passenger numbers may be a factor as there are many elderly and disabled people along the number 5 route and many younger families around either end of the service 7 route. The elderly and disabled mainly use Diamond Travel Cards for which the company gets a fixed amount per journey irrespective of the length of the journey while the younger people using the service 7 pay full price for their journeys, many of which are long enough to attract the new increased higher fares.

D M GLASSOCK

Uphill Road North, Weston

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