A vital bus service linking south Bristol with the city centre has been rescued - and its operator is offering free journeys today (September 12).
The number 52 service from Bristol Community Hospital to Cabot Circus was one of several routes run by Bristol Community Transport (BCT), which ceased operating services on September 2.
However, Transpora Group has today restarted the route also covering Bedminster Down, Bishopsworth and Hengrove Park. It is the second BCT route to be saved after First Bus took control of the metrobus M1 service.
Answering questions from Bristol World, Transpora Group operations director Rhys Hand said he’d already had excellent feedback to receiving the contract, which will initally run until April 1 next year.
And to mark its launch, he said the service was free to use today and snacks, fruit and drinks were being handed out to passengers. The timetable and route will remain unchanged, he said.
He added: “We have leased a number of vehicles that were in use with BCT and some of the drivers have been employed from BCT and a mixture of our own.
“Other than smart, clean buses there is no change to the service.
“It’s running for free today as a welcome back to those regular customers who have been left without a service. Our team have been out today handing out breakfast to customers, breakfast bars, fruit, and juice drinks.
“We have mobilized this service over the weekend working with our partners at West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and thank them for the support in getting this ready in a short space of time.”
Mr Hand also thanked south Bristol Councillor Tim Kent, who said had been ‘very positive’ about the company taking over the route.
Mr Hand added: “Customers have commented how smart and clean the buses are as well as saying that the route is vital to them getting out of the house, to work or to get shopping.”
Transpora Group operates bus services in Blackpool and Manchester and provices other services such as private hire, event shuttles and rail replacement in the South West and Hampshire.
The group has ambitions to expand services in the Bristol region.
BCT topped operating its 12 services in Bristol due to a period of dificult trading in the pandemic coupled with fuel prices and the cost-of-living crisis.
Lynn McClelland, chief executive of BCT’s parent organisation HCT Group, said last month: “This has led to a position where continued delivery of these services is unsustainable.
“We have tried to the very last minute to find an alternative operator for these services, but sadly, we have been unsuccessful, which means these services will now come to an end.”
Although the 52 and M1 services have been saved, many of BCT’s other services have not reemerged like the 511 from Bedminster to Hengrove or the 516 Knowle to Hengrove Park services.
The services are different to the First Bus routes to beimpacted by timetable changes in October.