First Bus will remove FOUR Weston services
- Credit: Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures
Bus operator First West of England has announced it will withdraw four of its bus routes in and around Weston next month.
The operator also confirmed that other routes will temporarily run less frequently and some will cut Weston from their routes due to low passenger numbers.
Routes 2 (town centre - South Road), 4 (town centre - Bleadon), 5 (Worle - Holm Road) and 6 (town centre - Worlebury) will be axed from April 24, with North Somerset Council tasked with finding alternative services for the affected areas.
Managing director of First West of England, Doug Claringbold, has stated that due to a lack of passengers, funding and drivers, the company will have to dedicate much of its resources to busier routes.
Mr Claringbold said: “Despite the Government extending emergency funding for another six months, ongoing issues with driver availability mean further action is necessary beyond the changes we made at the end of January to ensure we can operate services more reliably for our customers.
"As part of that, we have to ensure our resources are focused on the areas of the greatest need, which means we have had to act on those services and journeys that are just not commercially viable as we plan for the end of this funding in October.
“We only reduce or withdraw services as a very last resort and the issue with low passenger numbers and the resulting viability of some services pre-dates the pandemic and will not, therefore, be resolved by any recovery in passenger numbers."
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As well as cutting routes, a driver shortage means First will temporarily reduce the Sunday frequency of its 3 service between Sainsbury’s in Worle and Searle Crescent from every 30 to every 45 minutes, whilst service 7 between Worle and Heywood Village will have its Sunday frequency reduced from every 30 to every 60 minutes.
In addition, the X2 service linking Weston with Bristol has 'had long-standing issues with not carrying sufficient passengers to cover its costs' which was only worsened by the Covid pandemic.
As a result, from April 24, the service will remove the section between Weston and Yatton from its route, instead just operating between Bristol and Yatton.
Doug Claringbold added: “None of these were easy decisions but we need to make these adjustments to provide a reliable service overall for our customers so they can plan their routes with certainty.
"What we are effectively doing is building resilience into our network in and around Weston-super-Mare as we build back in the coming months and years.
“I want everyone to be clear that we are 100% committed to providing the very best possible public transport services in Weston and the rest of North Somerset and will continue to work closely with North Somerset Council to that end.
"This commitment is highlighted by the imminent roll-out of 27 brand new lower-emissions diesel buses in North Somerset and an ongoing driver recruitment campaign to ensure we get people where they want to go safely, efficiently and sustainably.”
Elsewhere, service X8 between Nailsea and Bristol will cease to operate but Service X7 will be re-routed to serve Nailsea and Backwell Station every 60 minutes.