To improve the punctuality and reliability of bus services in and around Bath, operator First West of England is amending the timetables of some of its services from 29th March.
To coincide with the changes, the company is also bringing in a number of additional vehicles and drivers to work in the city.
The changes predominately affect the following: Services 4, 13, 17, 37, 38/39/X39, 178 and 179.
Talking about what is happening, James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, said: “We are adjusting the timetables of some of our services from the end of March in a real effort to tackle the problems that we have seen recently with services not running as they should do.
“We have recently had particular problems with the 13 service serving Foxhill, the City Centre and Bathford and with the Bath-Bristol corridor so we are adding resource, in terms of buses and drivers to improve our reliability.
“The alterations are intended to resolve some of the ongoing punctuality and reliability concerns we’ve had, as well as alleviating some capacity issues on the most popular commuter routes between Bath and Bristol.
“In addition we can announce that there will be extra early evening journeys between Bath and Bristol on Service X39 from the end of March.
“Meanwhile we have been working with Bath and North East Somerset Council to make further improvements to bus service provision to the smaller towns and villages.
“As a result the residents of Writhington will see an improved service with all journeys on Service 179 buses extended to there from the end of March.”
These changes will create around 10 new bus driver jobs in Bath. The company is currently recruiting and training drivers for these new positions.
The new timetables will be uploaded (under Journey Planning / Timetable Booklets) by early March, and will be available in hard copy format by mid-March (from Travel Shops).
Specific changes to buses in and around Bath, from 29th March:
Service 4 (Kingsway – Bathampton): The route that buses take in Bath city centre for journeys towards Bathampton is being amended.
Instead of stopping in the bus station, vehicles will set down passengers on Dorchester Street, before stopping to both drop off and pick up passengers on Manvers Street too.
This change will alleviate problems with buses competing for the same space (bays) in the bus station at key times.
Notably Service 265 buses will also use the same stop on Manvers Street too, allowing people travelling towards Bathampton to use either service.
There will be no change to the stopping arrangements for buses heading in the opposite direction: they will remain as they are.
Service 13 (Foxhill – Bathford): To resolve issues regarding the punctuality and reliability of services, the timetable for this route is being amended.
In addition the company will use an extra vehicle at peak times to ensure that the timetable stays on track.
Service 17/17A (Southmead Hospital – Keynsham): This service is being adjusted in a number of ways.
Firstly to address concerns regarding the punctuality and reliability of buses, the timetable is being completely overhauled.
In some instances up to 15 minutes is being added to individual journeys in the timetable to make them more robust.
There will also be a number of extra journeys on Sundays and Public Holidays – providing opportunities to travel both earlier in the day and later into the evening.
The route that the buses take is also being amended, with a new variation – to be known as Service 17A – created.
While all Service 17 and Service 17A buses will provide journeys between Southmead Hospital and Keynsham on every trip, they’ll follow slightly different routes between Keynsham and Kingswood. Service 17 will go via Court Farm Road, Ellacombe Road, Woodward Drive and will operate the full length of Hanham Road while Service 17A will go via Bath Road, Stone Hill, Mount Hill Road, Cock Road, Weston Way and Courtney Road. Both services will serve the new Somerdale development on all journeys to and from Keynsham.
The changes mean that between Kingswood and Keynsham the overall frequency of buses will double, from one an hour, to one every half hour.
This reflects the massive increase in demand for the service that the company has seen since it began running the service in April 2014.
Service 37 (Bath – Bristol): To accommodate the changes being made to other services on the same corridor, the timetable is changing slightly.
The alterations mainly affect peak time journeys. Some departures at these times will change by up to 10 minutes.
As such customers are advised to check the timetable carefully before they travel.
Service 38 (Bath – Keynsham – Bristol): The timetable is being adjusted to improve the punctuality and reliability of service.
In addition, following agreement between First and Abus, brokered by Bath and North East Somerset Council, the two companies will accept all of each other’s season tickets from 29th March.
The route of the Abus Service 349 is also being adjusted so that it follows the same route as Service 38, including starting and finishing at Bristol Bus Station.
This means bus users will have greater choice between the two services. It also means that First season ticket holders will be able to board either Service 38 or 349 for journeys to and from Keynsham, using their valid day, week, month and annual tickets on the Abus service.
Service 39/X39 (Bath – Bristol): The timetables of these services are being adjusted to improve the punctuality and reliability of buses.
In addition, an extra vehicle will be used at peak times to ensure that the services are better able to cope with the level of congestion that they sometimes face.
On Service X39 there will also be some additional peak time journeys between Bath and Bristol which will provide extra capacity on what is an incredibly popular service.
There will also be extra journeys on Service 39 on Sundays and Public Holidays too.
People who use Services 38, 39 and X39 are advised to check the new timetables carefully to ensure they understand what is happening and when.
Service 178 (Bath – Bristol): Following partnership work between First and Bath and North East Somerset Council, there will be some changes to the evening timetable.
Specifically the 2355 hours journey from Bath (Dorchester Street) to Paulton, which currently only operates on Fridays and Saturdays, will now operate six days a week instead (ie Mondays to Saturdays).
In addition, the 2315 hours journey from Bristol to Radstock, which operates Monday to Saturday, is being extended beyond Radstock to terminate in Bath. This provides a later last journey opportunity for people wishing to travel.
Service 179 (Bath – Writhlington): Both the route and time timetable of this service are being adjusted.
Specifically all the journeys will be extended beyond Midsomer Norton to instead start and terminate at Writhlington from 29 March.
In addition the frequency of buses on the route is being increased. From the end of March buses there will be significantly more journeys a day than at present: 11 departures a day from Bath (increased from eight) and 10 departures from Writhlington (increased from seven).
These changes are being made possible following partnership work between First and the local authority.
In addition to this, the route that buses take in Timsbury is being amended. Specifically the majority of Monday to Saturday daytime journeys will also serve Greenvale Close.
Service 265 (Bath – Warminster – Salisbury): There is a change to the stopping arrangements for this service in Bath City Centre. From 29th March buses will use the stop on Manvers Street too.