First Bus issues statement on latest wave of bus cuts in Bristol

18 services could be cut or reduced in Oco

First Bus have released a statement on predicted plans to axe or reduce 18 services in and around Bristol.

The full list of services, including the 72 ad 72a, X5 and 178, was leaked by the West of England Combined Authority’s Metro Mayor Dan Norris this week - and can be found here.

Despite the Department for Transport announcing it would pledge a further £130million to pop up routes across the country, Mr Norris said there just weren’t enough drivers to keep certain services in the region afloat.

First was expected to confirm whether or not the services would be axed or changed today, but say this won’t actually happen until the end of next week.

Should the cuts go ahead, they would come into force in early October, leaving some struggling to get to work, shops or health appointments.

A spokesperson for First West of England had shed some light on the situation.

A woman looks out of the window of a First Bus in central Bristol.

They said that as a condition of transitional funding arrangements, bus operators had to undertake full network reviews to assess the viability of all routes in light of changes to travel patterns and bus use post-pandemic.

The statutory 4-week consultation period on the timetable proposals produced by that review ends this week.

The next stage involves the submission of final timetables to the Traffic Commissioner by this weekend.

The spokesperson added that changes to servives ‘can be concering’ and that customers were understandably eager to learn the details, but First wanted to wait until this consultation period had ended.

The spokesperson added: “Like all other bus operators in the UK, we have worked closely with our local authority partners to adapt our services so they are sustainable in the long term.

“The majority of our networks will be retained, and we will work to match our resources with demand for services in order to provide the majority of our customers with the most reliable network.

“We are committed to constructive partnerships and have been working with local authorities to provide as much notice as possible of any changes to allow them to support alternative arrangements.”

The reset comes at the same time as ongoing labour market challenges in the bus industry, which are particularly acute in the West of England and have caused unprecedented driver shortages.

‘Big question marks’ also hang over the firms 12 commercial bus routes, including the 505 which runs from Long Ashton to Southmead Hospital.

List of services under threat:

5: Downend - Bristol

22: University of Bath - Twerton

41: Lawrence Hill - Bristol 

42: Odd Down P&R - RUH      

72, 72A: Temple Meads - UWE Frenchay   

171, 172: Paulton - Bath    

X2: Bristol - Yatton  

X5 (in part): Bristol - Weston via Portishead    

Y3: Yate - Bristol    

Y4: Yate - Bristol    

Y5: Chipping Sodbury - Bristol    

11: Bathampton - Bath 

12: Haycombe Cemetery - Bath      

20: University of Bath - Twerton  

36: Extension of Bristol - St Annes service to Brislington with loss of service along Wick Road

82: Paulton - Radstock (Tyning)  

96: Hengrove - Brislington

178: Radstock - Bristol