First Announce Changes to Wells and Weston-super-Mare Services
Local bus operator First has announced a number of changes to its bus services in Wells and Weston-super-Mare Services, which will become effective Sunday 14 January 2018. The changes are designed to improve punctuality and reliability, create new journey opportunities and better match the level of service with the passenger demand. A new service will also be introduced.
Amongst the changes are:
- the extension of Service 5/5A to create new journey opportunities to Hutton or Bleadon, but frequency will be reduced to hourly,
- increased capacity on Service 7 and a reduction in frequency during certain times,
- significant changes to Service A2 prior to withdrawal in April,
- minor timing changes for the Service X8 and X9, as well as
- timetable changes for Service 20 from 25 March, with additional vehicle resources and commencement of full Summer schedule at end of May.
- changes to timings of Services 172 and 173, and a route extension of Service 174 to create new journey opportunities to/from Dinder, and
- withdrawal of Service 175,
A detailed overview of the changes is as follows:
Service 5/5A (Worle / West Wick – Hutton / Bleadon)
Following a review of customer demand for Service 5, there are a number of changes to the route and timetable from 14 January 2018. There are no changes to the route between West Wick / Worle and Uphill / Weston General Hospital. However, the frequency of buses will be reduced from every 30 minutes to every 60 minutes throughout the day. In addition, the majority of journeys will be extended beyond Uphill / Weston General Hospital to either Hutton or Bleadon. Those journeys extending to Bleadon will operate as Service 5A. Customers in Hutton and Bleadon will now have access to Service 5/5A and a number of new journey opportunities.
Service 7 (Worle – Oldmixon)
Following a review of customer demand and vehicle allocation on Service 7, there are changes to the Monday to Saturday frequency from 14 January 2018.
During the main part of the day Monday to Saturday the frequency of buses will be reduced from every 12 minutes to every 15 minutes. There are no changes to the route or hours of operation. Furthermore, there are no changes to the timetable during early mornings, evenings or all day on Sundays and Public Holidays. The majority of journeys will be operated by double decker vehicles, which ensures that despite the frequency reduction at certain times, the overall available capacity per hour has increased.
Service 20 (Weston-super-Mare to Burnham-on-Sea)
The Sunday and Public Holiday timetable will resume from 25 March 2018. From 26 March 2018, an additional vehicle will be utilised to ensure a reliable and punctual service can be operated as demand for the service increases. From 29 May 2018, the summer timetable will commence, with the frequency of buses increased from every 60 minutes to every 30 minutes.
Service A2 (Weston-super-Mare – Bristol Airport)
Following a review of customer demand for Service A2 there will be significant changes to the timetable from 14 January 2018 prior to an anticipated withdrawal of the Service in April.
The frequency of buses Monday to Saturday daytime (there is currently no evening or Sunday / Public Holiday timetable) will be reduced from every hour to every two hours.
While the company recognises that this frequency reduction will have an impact on some customers, there are simply too few customers using Service A2 to justify an hourly frequency.
All customers will still be able to make current journeys, however, not necessarily at current times following the frequency reduction. Many customers will be able to use Services 126 and A3 as alternatives.
First is continuing to work with Bristol Airport and North Somerset Council to develop commercially viable bus services in the affected area.
Service A2 has operated in its current format and during this times there has been very little growth in the number of customers using the service. This is despite a number of initiatives by First and North Somerset Council to improve the service and tailor the service to customer requests.
Since April 2017, the Weston Airport Flyer Service A3 has operated and this has subsequently reduced the demand for travel between Weston-super-Mare and Bristol Airport on Service A2.
The Weston Airport Flyer Service A3 provides faster and more reliable journeys between Weston-super-Mare and Bristol Airport and will shortly be relaunched with brand new vehicles.
The South-West Falcon coach service, operated by Stagecoach, operates along the A38 and serving Churchill, Lower Langford, Redhill and Bristol Airport. Local fares are available on the South-West Falcon, and this has subsequently reduced demand for Service A2 further since its operation a couple of years ago.
Destinations such as Locking, Banwell and Sandford are served by both Services 126 and A2. This means that the number of customers travelling between these destinations and Weston-super-Mare are shared between the two services and ultimately this impacts on the commercial viability of both services.
While there is a small level of customer demand for travel to and from Wrington and Churchill on Service A2, the level of customer demand is unfortunately not sufficient enough to operate a local bus service commercially. As a commercial local bus service operator, we do not believe that Service A2 has a long term commercial future, even at a reduced frequency. Consequently, First has informed North Somerset Council that further to the frequency reduction from 14 January 2018, that it intends to withdraw the service entirely in April 2018. By providing North Somerset Council with advance notice of this intention, it will allow the Council time to decide whether to procure any form or replacement service to serve the communities that are unable to make local bus journeys on other services.
We are also aware that a number of customers use Service A2 to travel to Churchill Academy and Sixth Form. We have tried to design a revised timetable from 14 January 2018 that accommodates preferred travelling times to and from Churchill Academy and Sixth Form. However, while trying to accommodate this, we have had to consider wider implications elsewhere in the timetable and also take account of the earlier finish on Fridays. Unfortunately, while we have been able to retain the current morning journey from Weston-super-Mare, we have been unable to provide a suitable afternoon return journey, without having impacts to the remainder of the timetable. The company has informed Churchill Academy and Sixth Form of the changes in January and withdrawal in April, and to advise refund arrangements for any pupils and staff who may be affected by these changes.
The company is also continuing to work with Bristol Airport and North Somerset Council to develop commercially viable bus services in the affected area.
Service X8 (Bristol – Nailsea via Backwell)
There are some minor changes to the Saturday timetable, which are for operational reasons:
- The 1910 Bristol to Nailsea journey will depart at 1915 and operate 5 minutes later throughout.
- The 1947 Nailsea to Bristol journey will depart at 1952 and operate 5 minutes later throughout.
Service X9 (Bristol – Nailsea via Long Ashton)
The are some minor changes to the Monday to Friday and Saturday timetables:
- The Monday to Friday 0825 Bristol to Nailsea journey will depart at 0818 and operate earlier throughout.
- The Monday to Friday 0907 Nailsea to Bristol journey will depart at 0902 and operate earlier throughout.
The Saturday 0954 Nailsea to Bristol journey will depart earlier at 0920 and will run earlier throughout.
Service 172 (Bath – Paulton / Wells)
The Monday to Friday 0705 departure from Bath to Paulton will depart later at 0710 and will no longer serve Peasedown St John or Westfield. This change is required to facilitate changes to other services.
Service 173 (Bath - Wells)
The Monday to Saturday 1830 journey from Wells to Bath will now operate as Service 174 and will depart earlier at 1822. The Monday to Friday 0710 journey from Bath to Wells will operate as Service 174 and depart earlier at 0700. The Monday to Friday Schooldays 0759 journey from Chilcompton to Street (Strode College) will depart earlier at 0754 and the Service starts from Radstock at 0733. These journeys will operate on non-schooldays between Radstock and Wells.
The Monday to Friday (Schooldays) 1526 journey from Blue School to Bath is withdrawn, however, is partly replaced by a Service 174 journey at 1507 from Wells to Bath.
These changes are to facilitate changes to other services.
Service 174 (Bath - Wells)
The route of Service 174 will be amended slightly to serve Dinder. Journey times between Wells and Shepton Mallet will be extended by a couple of minutes as a result of this route change. An additional journey will operate Monday to Saturday at 1822 from Wells to Bath. This additional journey is designed to provide a later last journey from Wells to Shepton Mallet following the withdrawal of Service 175.
Monday to Friday journeys at 0705 from Wells to Shepton Mallet and 0729 from Shepton Mallet to Wells are re-timed to 0633 and 0700 respectively. These changes are to provide connections with other services at Wells. The Monday to Friday non-schooldays 1512 journey from Wells to Bath is advanced to 1507 and will also operate on schooldays.
On Saturdays additional journeys will operate at 0750 from Wells to Shepton Mallet and 0815 from Shepton Mallet to Wells. This is to ensure an early morning arrival into Wells following the withdrawal of Service 175.
Service 175 (Wells – Shepton Mallet)
Following a review of customer demand for Service 175, it is with regret that the service will be withdrawn from 14 January 2018. Service 175 currently operates every 60 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and follows the much of the 174 route.
Customers travelling between Wells and Shepton Mallet will still be able to do so on Service 174, which operates every 60 minutes Monday to Saturday, as well as a Sunday and Public Holiday timetable.
Customers travelling to and from Dinder will be able to use Service 174, which will now additionally serve Dinder. Customers in Dinder will also benefit from a direct service to and from Radstock and Bath.
Where possible, changes have been made to Service 174 to facilitate school and college movements. Please refer to Service 174 for more information.
The following Services will see no changes:
- Service 3 (Worle – Searle Crescent)
- Service 126 (Weston-super-Mare – Wells)
- Service 376 (Bristol – Street)
- Service X1 (Weston-super-Mare – Bristol via Long Ashton)
- Service X2 (Weston-super-Mare – Bristol via Claverham)
- Service X3/X3A/X4 (Bristol – Portishead)
- Service X5 (Weston-super-Mare – Portishead / Nailsea – Cribbs Causeway)
- Service X6 (Clevedon – Bristol)
- Service X7 (Weston-super-Mare – Bristol via Clevedon)
- Service Weston Flyer (Weston-super-Mare – Bristol Airport)