First West of England announces further minor changes to bus services in North Somerset
First West of England is introducing changes on many of its bus routes across North Somerset and the West of England region from Sunday 2nd August, in response to the Government’s recent announcement that everyone can now return to use public transport again, with the use of face coverings and social distancing.
The changes will see some routes increase and selected weekend timetables reinstated to support social distancing onboard, as more passengers start to travel by bus again. Some Sunday services will return to more normal operating hours, as the bus operator adjusts the timetables to match customer demand.
Bus routes through Weston Town Centre are currently diverted, due to a new road layout introduced by the Local Authority to support social distancing on the High Street: Services 1 (Weston-super-Mare – Sand Bay) and 20 (Weston-super-Mare – Burnham-on-Sea) now terminate at Weston Grand Pier; and services 3 (Worle – Searle Crescent via Weston Town Centre), 5 (Worle – Hutton via Weston Town Centre) and 7 (Worle – Oldmixon via Weston Town Centre) also follow a diverted route. From the 2nd August, the services will permanently change to these routes, as the Local Authority confirms the new road layout will remain in place.
James Freeman, Managing Director at First West of England, said: “We’re pleased to welcome back more passengers to our buses, following the Government’s latest announcement that people can use public transport again for everyday journeys.
“Over the last few months, we have steadily increased our services, following the significant reduction during the Coronavirus lockdown. Our priority is to ensure that customers can return to travel by bus again safely and with social distancing in place. To do this, we’ve adjusted our timetables and deployed buses on the busiest routes to provide additional capacity for social distancing where needed.
“As we emerge from this crisis, we are finding innovative ways to help our customers travel by bus whilst social distancing. We’ve introduced new functions to the First Bus app so you can now track the location of your next bus and check the seat availability onboard, and we’ve now just launched the an exciting new trial of the UK’s first scheduled bus booking system on selected routes in Bristol, Bath and Thornbury, where passengers can reserve a space on the bus before they travel.
“We continue to monitor all our routes and are working closely with the local authorities to ensure that bus travel is available for those who need it. Our entire fleet remains subject to a robust cleaning regime, including a long-lasting sanitising treatment, and we want to remind all customers that they are legally obligated to wear a face covering when travelling by bus, unless they fall within the Government’s specified exemptions for this rule."
Changes to First Bus services in North Somerset starting from Sunday 2nd August include:
- A Saturday service will be introduced on route X2 between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare via Long Ashton to run every 2 hours, to support social distancing as customer demand along this route increases at the weekend.
- The Sunday service on routes X1 (Weston-super-Mare – Bristol via Backwell) and X1x (Weston-super-Mare - Bristol) will remain the same but with some early morning and evening journeys withdrawn, due to low customer demand at these times.
- The Coaster services 1 (Town Centre – Sand Bay) and 20 (Weston-super-Mare – Burnham-on-Sea) will continue to terminate at the Grand Pier for customers travelling between Weston-super-Mare and Sand Bay or Burnham-on-Sea. This follows changes to the High Street introduced by the Local Authority to support social distancing, which mean that buses can no longer stop at Regent Street. On both services, the route through Weston Town Centre will also permanently change to the current diversion.
Saturday timetables on services between Weston-super-Mare, Worle and Hutton will increase in frequency, to provide more capacity for customers using this bus route at the weekend:
- Service 3 (Worle - Searle Crescent) and Service 7 (Worle - Old Mixon) will increase to run every 20 minutes on Saturday, with extended operating hours on the timetable. The Sunday services will remain the same, but with some early morning journeys withdrawn on both routes, as well as some evenings journeys withdrawn on Service 7. Both services will officially change to the current diverted route through Weston Town Centre, following the introduction of a new road layout by the Local Authority, to support social distancing.
- The Saturday service on route 5 between Worle and Hutton will double in frequency to run hourly, with extended operating hours. The Sunday timetable will no longer operate on this service due to low customer demand and buses will be redeployed to busier routes to support social distancing. Service 5 will officially adopt its current diverted route through Weston Town Centre, following the Local Authority’s introduction of a new road layout to support social distancing.
Saturday timetables on routes between Weston-super-Mare and nearby towns will also increase:
- The Saturday service on route X5 (Weston-super-Mare – Portishead) will double to run every 60 minutes.
Routes between Bristol and surrounding areas in North Somerset will also see some changes to prepare for more customers travelling by bus at the weekend and provide sufficient capacity for social distancing on-board:
- On Service X4 (Bristol – Portishead via Pill) the short journeys between Bristol and Pill will be renumbered as Service X4a, to make it clearer for customers travelling on this route.
- An hourly Saturday service will be introduced to route X3x between Bristol and Portishead direct. This will run alongside the weekend service on routes X3 (Bristol - Portishead via Portbury Wharf) and X4 (Bristol - Portishead via Pill) to increase capacity for social distancing, as more customers start to use the bus to travel to these locations at the weekend.
- A Saturday service will also be introduced on route X6 between Bristol and Clevedon to run every 2 hours.
There will be some minor changes to the Mendip Explorer 376 (Bristol - Street) to match customer demand:
- Journeys between Wells and Street will double to every 15 minutes, which will mean that buses will now run every 15 minutes along the entire route to increase the capacity for social distancing.
- The weekend timetable will remain the same, apart from some early morning journeys on Sunday will no longer run, due to low customer demand at these times.
For customers travelling between Paulton and Bath, there will be some minor changes to the timetable on Service 171/172 during the week, as well as an increase in frequency of buses on Saturday:
- From Monday to Friday, alternate journeys on this route will now be numbered 171, which will run in a clockwise loop around Farrington Gurney and Paulton. Service 172 will then also operate in an anti-clockwise loop around Paulton and Farrington Gurney from Monday through to Saturday. This provides journeys both ways round the Farrington Gurney loop.
- The Saturday timetable on this route will also increase from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes.
- On service D2 (Bath – Frome) the Saturday timetable will double in frequency to run every 30 minutes with during retail hours, to support social distancing on this route as more shoppers return to travel by bus. The Sunday service will remain the same, but with some early and late journeys withdrawn.
Some minor changes are also planned for services between Wells and Bath to provide additional buses for this route:
- On Service 173 (Wells to Bath via Gurney Slade) an hourly Saturday service will be introduced to support more customers returning to use bus travel along this route.
- On Service 174 (Wells to Bath via Shepton Mallet) early morning journeys on Sundays will be withdrawn due to low customer demand. The service will remain the same throughout the rest of the week and weekend.
Customers can find all the latest service updates, information and timetables on the First West of England website here: www.firstgroup.com/coronaviruswoe.