Bus firm 'is removing lifeline for old folk'

August 29 2014

CAMPAIGNERS have reacted with dismay to news that bus company First is axeing the number 20 bus service.

CAMPAIGNERS have reacted with dismay to news that bus company First is axeing the number 20 bus service.
The route was due to be dropped on August 31 and, while talks are being held with local councillors, First insists that the service has to go because it is failing to cover its operating costs.
The bus, which travels from the centre to Southmead via Longmead Avenue, was only reinstated in April – to include King’s Drive – following a petition by Bishopston councillor, Daniella Radice.
Bristol campaigner Daniel Farr, who led a successful battle to see a reduction in reduction in First ticket prices in the city, said: “This service is a vital link for many elderly, disabled and vulnerable service users that rely on the bus to take them to places such as the BRI and Children’s Hospital. Removing the number 20 will have a devastating effect on them, and also local businesses.
“It is imperative that we stop the service 20 being removed by persuading Bristol City Council
to either subsidise the existing route or by providing a viable alternative.” 20 bus
Ruth Cooper, owner of Opus 13 - a music shop on St Michael’s Hill - said: “The number 20 is the closest service to our shop. “I travel to work on it, but I’m more concerned for the elderly and school kids. I think it’s terrible that First are pushing through their plans during the summer when not many people are around.”
Martin Fodor, Redland councillor, said: “We’re all disappointed with the decision. It’s been a lifeline for many residents.
“Many users have pointed out how there has been driver confusion about the route - since the re-routing earlier this year - and an unreliable service for a while, which has driven passengers away. 
“We know local bus issues are much more complicated since privatisation - the council’s powers and budget cuts make taking action very difficult. The 15 Wessex route in Horfield and Henleaze has also been affected.
“Sadly, until we get our own local integrated transport authority these problems could keep happening. I do hope government are talking about the need for local buses and take action to end the isolation and worry of local people.”
A First spokesman said: “Service 20 is being withdrawn because it fails to cover its own operating costs, carrying an average of just 10 passengers per journey. We have, over a number of years, tweaked the service to make it more attractive, reinstating, for instance, the bus to particular roads on the request of customers but these measures have not proved successful.
“We understand that people are concerned regarding the withdrawal. However, the service is not sustainable on a commercial basis, and if people are to be encouraged to use public transport more generally then it is better that our resources are redeployed to areas where they can be used to greater effect.
“While one, under-performing route is being withdrawn, three new services - 71, 72 and X74 - are being created.”
To view or download timetables for the affected services log on to www.firstgroup.com/bristol (new timetables can be found under journey planning / timetable booklets). Hard copy timetables are available from travel shops.