I took an under-threat bus service in Bristol and discovered why people are desperate to save it

The number 17 bus is, once again, in danger of being scrapped - but how will this affect locals? How important is this route? And who uses it? I took the 17 bus to find out.

Stood at the signed bus stop in Dorian Road, the rain had just stopped and I could see Horfield Leisure Centre and a play park on the other side of the road - and no-one was waiting for the 10.43am number 17 bus.

So I decided to wait for the next one at 11.14am and met a student from Glenside Campus at the University of West of England who arrived to get the bus, but was unawareBristol will lose in August without extra funding">it was under threat from being scrapped.

She said: “I don’t have a car so it definitely would affect me because I’d have to either get two buses in or I’d have to do quite a long walk and then get a bus from there.

“And it’s quite a popular route with other students, I believe whenever I have got the 17 there have been quite a lot of students who are doing a similar route. So yes, it would make things very difficult.”

Initially, the double-decker bus to Kingswood was relatively empty as I got on, with around ten people at most being on the bus at a time throughout the journey.

Boarding the number 17 bus at Kingswood for Southmead Hospital
Boarding the number 17 bus at Kingswood for Southmead Hospital
Boarding the number 17 bus at Kingswood for Southmead Hospital

During my time on the bus, I was able to speak with someone who was commuting to work.

They said: “The bus goes to Kingswood, and it also goes to Southmead Hospital which is useful for people with appointments and it’s good for getting to work - it’s the ideal bus. Why they want to scrap it, I don’t know.”

The bus terminated at the sheltered King’s Chase Centre bus station, and deciding to give the route another go, I jumped on the return bus which was just leaving around the corner - this was slightly livier.

An elderly woman shared her concern that the scrapping of the bus route would clash with the Bristol City Council’s objective to reduce car usage across the city.

She said: “If the 17 was cancelled, it would be terrible. How would we, from Staplehill, or even Kingswood, get to Southmead Hospital? We need it on weekends and everything.

“You want cars off the road, and if people got a car, they are going to be driving a car. We must keep the 17 bus.”

Another woman said: “It would mean that I wouldn’t be able to go to the hospital. And it would be a different route and a longer time. And also, I like shopping in Kingswood -it’s just 10, 15 minutes for me.

“It would be a big deal, really, if they were to cancel the 17. We have a lot of elderly that use the bus to go to the hospital with all sorts of treatments. It would be awful if they cancelled this bus.”

An elderly man, who was making his way to an appointment at Southmead Hospital, said: “I’ve been using these buses a lot, certainly since the fuel crisis, to get on for a lot of appointments at Southmead, and this is not the first time it’s happened they cancelled buses.

“So, frankly, public transport is not very good. It’s alright if you’ve got all the time in the world, but when you’ve got to get from A to B in a certain time span, it’s not good.”

It was at Southmead Hospital where I finished my journey.

Overall, not many people were using the bus during my trip, and most of the seats remained empty. But it should be added that this was not during rush hour, and it was during the weekday.

It was clear during the journey that the 17 bus route was vital for students in the area, work commuters and the elderly who were travelling to Southmead Hospital for their appointments.

They will be hoping that money is secured to save the bus route again.