Buses running throughout the Mendips altered from September
A number of significant changes are being made to bus services that operate to and from Bath, and throughout the Mendips, from 4 September. Above all else, the changes are designed to improve the punctuality and reliability of local buses.
The changes affect services 161, 172, 173, 174, 175, 178, 179 and 379, while a new Service 171 is also being created.
The routes collectively provide services to Bath, Bristol, Shepton Mallet, Street, Glastonbury and Wells.
Talking about the changes Andrew Sherrington, General Manager, First Bath, Wells and Weston-super-Mare says: “We are making a series of changes to the services that operate throughout the Mendips, and to and from Bristol and Bath.
“We are taking steps to improve the reliability and regularity of the already frequent service between Bath and Midsomer Norton which runs every 15 minutes. At present some of these services make long onward journeys to Bristol from Radstock, which means that traffic delays there, around the Bristol end of the route, can have a significant impact on the operation between Radstock and Bath.
“As part of the alterations, there are some significant route changes, and one service, the 379, which effectively duplicates what’s already available through a combination of other routes, is being withdrawn.
“These alterations are all about creating a network of Mendip services, that provide regular and reliable journeys to Bristol and Bath from Midsomer Norton and Radstock as well as the other smaller towns and villages and which can also be used to explore the best that the area has to offer.
“Following the successful introduction of Service 174 last autumn, restoring a long-lost link between Shepton Mallet and Bath, we are now introducing a regular Sunday service on this route from September. We believe this will be very popular as we have seen significant growth in the number of people using Service 174 since it began last year.
“We understand that some people will be concerned about some of the changes that are being made. We would stress though that the affected routes are being altered to resolve ongoing issues with punctuality and reliability and ensure that what we do operate is as commercially sustainable and can survive in the long term. This way we ensure that we are able to continue to invest in public transport in the area. We would stress we are doing this on the back of the success of the changes made to the Mendip Explorer route between Street, Glastonbury, Wells and Bristol (Service 376) which has gone from strength to strength since it was re launched last autumn.”
New timetables for the affected services will be available online from 12 August, and in hard copy format by the end of August.
Specific changes from 4 September
Service 161 (Wells – Shepton Mallet): This service is being renumbered as Service 175 (see details below).
Service 171 (Bath – Peasedown St John): This will be a new route for First. It effectively replaces the journeys that have previously been operated by Somerbus on Service 175. The latter is being withdrawn as the owner of Somerbus retires. Buses on Service 171 will run hourly Monday to Friday providing 13 journeys in each direction between Bath Bus Station and Peasedown St John. The route is similar to that previously operated by Somerbus.
Working in combination with Services 172, 173 and 174 (see below), Service 171 will provide up to five buses an hour (Monday – Friday daytime) on common sections of route into Bath.
Service 172 (Bath – Paulton / Wells): This new service will provide journeys between Bath, Paulton and Wells. Working alongside Services 171, 173 and 174 it will help to provide up to five buses an hour between Bath and Peasedown St John, and up to four buses an hour between Bath and Midsomer Norton via Radstock, and will therefore help to mitigate the shortening of Service 178 and the withdrawal of Service 379.
Buses will run every half an hour Monday to Saturday daytime and every hour during the evenings and on Sundays and Public Holidays. Some early morning journeys and some evening journeys will also be extended to start or finish in Wells, operating via Chewton Mendip and Farrington Gurney.
Service 173 (Bath – Wells): Following the introduction of Service 172 and taking account of changes to Service 174, the timetable of Service 173 is being altered. From September there will be no Sunday or Public Holiday journeys on this route, however they will be provided by Service 174, which also runs between Bath and Wells via Shepton Mallet, and on Service 172 (between Bath, Paulton and Wells). As a result of these changes Binegar and Chilcompton will lose access to bus services on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Service 174 (Bath – Wells): The route of this service within Midsomer Norton is changing from September, increasing the number of journey opportunities between there and Bath. A new Sunday and Public Holiday timetable is also being introduced on this route. Operating hourly during the main part of the day, buses will connect Wells, Shepton Mallet, Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Bath replacing a significant part of Service 173 and giving Shepton Mallet a Sunday service for the first time in many years.
Service 175 (Wells – Shepton Mallet): This will be the new number for what was Service 161. The timetable is being adjusted to both improve punctuality and reliability and also withdraw those journeys which are poorly used. Specifically, the Sunday and Public Holiday timetable, which was introduced on a trial basis last year, will no longer operate, but much of the route will be covered by the Service 174’s Sunday and Public Holiday timetable instead.
Service 178 (Bath – Bristol): The Bath, Radstock, Midsomer Norton section of this route will be covered by the new Service 172, together with Services 173 and 174. In light of this Service 178 will now operate over most of its existing route between Radstock and Bristol via Keynsham. In Midsomer Norton buses won’t serve Old Mills Tesco and in Keynsham they’ll no longer serve the Chandag Estate. We have made these changes to address issues with the punctuality and reliability of buses which are generated by running a bus over what amounts to a two-hour journey between Bristol and Bath and to ensure that the route remains commercially viable in the longer term..
The timetables are also changing, with buses set to run every hour during the day (Monday to Saturday) between approximately 6am and 8pm.
Service 179 (Bath – Writhlington): The timetable and route of this service are being altered.
In Wansdyke buses will be diverted to serve Banwell Road and Cranmore Place in place of Service 14. While between High Littleton and Paulton the route is being revised so that Farrington Gurney is also served. The latter will also allow connections between Services 179 and the Mendip Explorer Service 376 to be made.
The timetable changes will see the Monday to Friday frequency of buses reduced during the off peak (from every 90 minutes to every 120 minutes) although peak time departures are largely unaffected and will remain broadly the same. The timetable is also being adjusted on Sundays and Public Holidays. Regular users are strongly advised to check the new timetables before travelling.
Service 379 (Bath – Bristol): Following a review of bus services in the area a decision has been made to withdraw Service 379 from 4 September. Service 379 was originally introduced to operate one morning and evening journey in and out of Bristol. It was later enhanced to run hourly Monday to Saturday daytime, and then latterly extended to run to and from Bath as well. These changes had proved popular but the number of people using the route has not grown sufficiently to enable it to become commercially viable in the long term, especially given the array of other options people have for travel between Bristol and Bath. In addition to this, the route suffers from poor punctuality and reliability given its length. Collectively these factors mean it is better to withdraw the service and concentrate on providing the other alternative services instead.
From September customers who previously used Service 379 will be able to use the following alternatives: For travel between Bristol city centre and West Town Lane, Service 2 (Cribbs Causeway – City Centre – Stockwood); for travel from West Town Lane to Whitchurch, Pensford, Clutton, Temple Cloud, and Farrington Gurney, Service 376 (Bristol – Wells via Glastonbury and Street); for travel to Paulton and or Bath (Services 179 and 376, changing in Farrington Gurney, or Service 172, which operates every 30 minutes for travel to Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Bath). People in Paulton, Midsomer Norton or Radstock wishing to travel into Bristol will be able to use Service 178 instead, or they can travel into Bath picking up connection to Bristol there (on Services X39, 37, 38 or 39).
In addition to the changes noted above, a number of other alterations (already publicised) are being made to buses that operate between Bath and Bristol from the same date (4 September). These changes affect Service 37/37A (Bath – Bristol), Service 38 (Bath – Bristol via Keynsham) and Service X39/39 (Bath – Bristol). Changes are also being made to number of other routes operating in Bath, in Bristol and across North Somerset from the same date. They are being explained in separate press releases.
For more information about First West of England, to view press releases relating to all the other changes, or to find new timetable or map information, log onto www.firstgroup.com/westofengland.
New timetables for the affected services will be available online from 12 August, and in hard copy format by 22 August.