MP Wera Hobhouse and B&NES Council Deputy Leaders Cllrs Richard Samuel and Sarah Warren met with First Bus on the 4th February to find solutions to changes First Bus has made to the routes of the number 6 and 7 buses.
Residents have been complaining to Bath MP Wera Hobhouse and Walcot ward Councillors Richard Samuel and Tom Davies about the changes to the number 6 and 7 bus routes that serve Larkhall, Fairfield Park and Camden. The routes now terminate at the Guildhall instead of the bus station, forcing some passengers to make their way on foot to the bus and train stations for their onward journeys. Connectivity between these two buses and other bus services is poor. School children, the less mobile and the elderly are experiencing difficulties as a result.
First Bus shortened the number 6 and 7 routes as one of many cost-saving measures necessitated by falling passenger numbers resulting from the pandemic. Central Government has provided financial support to bus companies during the pandemic but this has been insufficient to allow First Bus to maintain full service on all routes. With patronage still well below pre-pandemic levels, bus companies face a potential cliff-edge if Government support ends this spring, as has been threatened.
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said:
“These changes to the number 6 and 7 bus routes are the latest example of the deterioration of our city’s bus services. My Lib Dem Council colleagues and I are fighting to ensure our residents retain regular, reliable bus services that meet their needs.
“We acknowledge the financial pressures faced by First Bus. We have been working with them for months to improve the overall situation and have managed to save some routes from being cut, partly thanks to the West of England Authority which has been supportive. By refusing to commit to ongoing funding, central Government is forcing companies like First Bus to make very difficult choices. Our residents are suffering. I am pleased we have found some partial solutions for the number 6 and 7 buses. We will continue to push for better public transport solutions for Bath residents.”
Richard Samuel, Walcot ward Councillor and Deputy Council Leader, Cabinet Member for Resources, said:
“The number 6 and 7 buses enable residents from the north and east of Bath to travel to the city centre and Bath Spa train station. These routes have been under threat for years. When their frequency was increased, the improved service meant patronage increased as well. Shortening these routes is creating difficulties for school children, the less mobile and the elderly. The measures we agreed today with First Bus, including through-ticketing, a smooth transition between the number 6 and 7 buses and the number 3 bus and an additional schedule signboard, are steps to improve residents’ experience.”
John Leach, Liberal Democrat activist for Bathwick, said:
“If you reduce bus services, you reduce patronage as people find alternative, less sustainable ways to get around. This makes services less profitable not more and is the start of a slippery slope towards even more drastic cuts. If First Bus needs to make the routes more commercially viable they should be looking at improving services, not cutting them back.”