Residents in a cut-off area of Bristol are about to be ‘held hostage’ by sweeping bus service cuts that will see one vital route reduced and another axed entirely.
In light of dwindling passenger numbers and a shortage of bus drivers, First Bus announced a raft of ammendments to services affecting numerous areas in Bristol this week - including Whitchurch.
The ‘vital’ 92 service that runs through the area from Broadmead to the Hengrove Depot will no longer serve Windways and parts of Whitchurch to the south as well as South Bristol Community Hospital.
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Meanwhile the 93 service from Bristol City Centre to Hengrove will be withdrawn.
Tim Kent, Lib Dem Bristol City Councillor for Hengrove and Whitchurch Park, said it would leave a ‘good chunk’ of the ward ‘trapped’ - and that residents had come to him outraged.
He told BristolWorld: “People are shocked and disgusted at this, but I have to say they are also not entirely surprised.
“We’ve seen our area attacked again and again by these types of cuts over the years, despite the fact we as a society are trying to make a shift from car reliance to sustainable, mass public transport.
“We all know about plans to build an underground railway in Bristol, meanwhile there are some parts of the city that won’t even have a bus. It’s ridiculous.
“My ward has a far higher amount of elderly people living here, they are completely reliant on the bus service and they now face having to walk up to a mile to try and catch the nearest service.
“Around 2,000 houses are about to be cut off by these changes. People are being held hostage by public transport and it is appalling.”
While dozens of services across Bristol are being impacted, Metro Mayor of the West of England Combined Authority, Dan Norris, said he was particuarly concerned about the changes to the 92, which is a key hospital route.
The changes are due to come into effect from April 24, with the Metro Mayor explaining that funding from the Government had come too late and that Stagecoach services across the region will also be affected.
Count Kent added that plans were in motion to create a new bus service for the Whitchurch areas that would be hit by the changes, which would be subsidised by WECA, but this was not set in stone as the search continues for an alternative operator willing to snap up the route.
Whitchurch resident Adrian Wyatt said that he tried using public transport as his main method of getting around but had ‘failed miserably’ as the ‘infrequency, moved stops and costs’ had made it unviable even before the cuts were announced.
He said: “Yet again, South Bristol feels increasingly cut off while being used as the place to build, build and build with less and less infrastructure.”
Emma Bidwell said: “Absolutely disgusting. Making OAPs housebound, unable to get shopping or see their GP, and school children will have absolutely no access to public transport for school. Words absolutely fail me.”
And Della Buckland said that Whitchurch had been left ‘at the bottom of the pile, yet again’.
She added: “How are people from these areas going to get to doctors and clinic appointments?
“Not everyone has a car. These’re also Asda, the library chemist and other vital services.”
You can read the full list of changes to bus services across Bristol here.