Boss of First Bus makes bold statement in defence of changes and cuts to services across Bristol

Timetable changes to dozens of First bus services across Bristol came into force yesterday (April 24)

The boss of First Bus has strongly defended major cuts to services across Bristol - claiming the ‘vast majority’ of users will notice a more reliable service from today.

Reductions and changes to routes which were announced last month came into force yesterday (April 24). It means fewer buses will now serve dozens of routes, while some, like the 93 service from the city centre to Hengrove, have been withdrawn altogether.

Sign up to our BristolWorld Today newsletter

Main routes like the number 2 and 2a between Cribbs Causeway and Stockwood and the metrobus M1 service from Hengrove to Cribbs Causeway will now have less frequent services.

At the time of the announcement, First said the changes would mean it could focus on the better performing routes. But the news was met with objections across the city, including in Whitchurch and Kingswood.

And due to concerns over the change in route for the 92 service in Whitchurch, a service operated by CT Plus which serves South Bristol Community Hospital was put in place to start today.

First Bus managing director Doug Claringbold says the changes are needed due to staffing issues and low usage

Today, speaking on BBC Radio Bristol with Claire Cavanagh, Doug Claringbold, managing director of First West of England, said the changes will mean services will be more reliable. In the six minute interview, he used the words ‘reliable’ and ‘reliably’ on no fewer than 10 occasions.

He said: “What we are doing is trying to ensure we run a reliable service - the service for vast majority of customers is going to become more reliable as of today because.... we are making sure that we focus our resources on delivering services for the vast majority of people.

“I think what we are doing is making services more reliable and actually our customers will note that.

He added: “I accept there are some changes which make certain journeys more difficult, or certain routes removed, but those aren’t journeys which were carrying many people and we have got two challenges.

“One is the resource challenge, like the airline industry is having to deal with, but also we’re not carrying the same number of passengers we were before Covid, so we’re really having to focus our resources on running reliable services for the majority of customers.”

When Ms Cavanagh raised the issue of unreliablity on the number 2 service, Mr Claringbold apologised, and added that the changes will address such problems.

He said: “It is really important for such a critical route... we want to make sure we run that service reliably - that’s why we are having to take the difficult decision by focusing the resources to enable us to run the number 2 to the timetable that we publish.”

However, this morning, First Bus put out a message on its social media channels over problems with its timetables on its website. The company said users should download PDFs of route maps instead.

How have the changes affected you? We’d love to hear your views. Email [email protected]