First West of England is set to significantly increase its services across Bath and the West of England region, with new timetables starting on many bus routes from Sunday 5th July.
The new timetables come as the Government moves to ease the lockdown further to allow many hospitality venues to reopen, with social distancing in place.
The uplift in services will ensure social distancing on buses can continue to be met by passengers, as more workers return and some people start to use public transport for non-essential travel, following the easing of lockdown by Government from 4th July.
In preparation for more people starting to travel by bus again, the operator is further increasing many services both during the week and at the weekend, after bus timetables were significantly reduced during the coronavirus lockdown.
James Freeman, managing director at First West of England, said: “During the coronavirus lockdown, our services were reduced to a minimum level, due to a significant drop in passenger numbers.
“Over the last few weeks, we have been gradually increasing our services to match customer demand as lockdown has eased.
“We’re pleased now to bring a significant uplift to many of our services across the region, as Government announces further changes to lockdown and we prepare for more customers to start using bus travel again, in line with Government guidelines.
“As we have done throughout the coronavirus outbreak, we are continuing to monitor all our routes and are working closely with the West of England Combined Authority to ensure that bus travel is available for those who need it.
“We want to remind all customers that it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering when travelling by bus, unless you fall within the Government’s specified exemptions for this rule. Social distancing measures remain in place on all our buses and we ask that all customers adhere to these rules to help protect each other.
“As our freedom of movement begins to return, it is critical that everyone takes responsibility to travel within these Government regulations. By working together, we can get the region back on its feet and moving again safely.”
Changes to First Bus services in Bath starting from Sunday 5th July include:
Service 1 (Bath Bus Station – South Down) will almost double in frequency to every 7 minutes for daytime journeys during the week. The weekend timetable will triple in frequency to every 10 minutes. This is increase is due to the fact that small buses are used on this service.
Service 2 (Bath City Centre – Mulberry Park) will increase to every 20 minutes for daytime journeys Monday to Friday and weekend evening journeys will be reinstated.
Service 3 (Foxhill – Bathford via Bath City Centre) will now run every 15 minutes and Service 3a (Weston – Batheaston via Bath City Centre) will be reinstated to run every 15 minutes during the day, Monday to Friday.
Customers travelling between Weston and Bath can also use Service 4 (Weston – Odd Down via Bath City Centre). This service will increase to every 15 minutes Monday to Friday and every 20 minutes at the weekend.
Service 5 (Bath Bus Station – Whiteway) will increase in frequency to every 8 minutes during the day, Monday to Friday. Additional journeys between City Centre and Twerton Arch will increase the frequency to every 4 minutes during the day, to match customer demand along Lower Bristol Road and provide extra capacity on this part of the route. The weekend timetable for Service 5 will increase to every 15 minutes.
Weekend evening journeys will be reinstated on routes 6 (Bath Bus Station – Fairfield Park), 6a Bath Bus Station – Fairfield/Larkhall) and 7 (Bath Bus Station – Larkhall), benefitting customers travelling in the evening as lockdown eases and hospitality venues reopen.
Weekend evening journeys will also be reinstated on Service 8 (Bath City Centre – Kingsway via Linear Park) and frequency of buses will increase to every 20 minutes during the day Monday to Friday.
Service 9 remains suspended and customers wishing to travel by bus on this route should use the alternative services 3a and 4 which operate between Weston and the City Centre.
Service 18 (Bath – Kingswood via Keynsham & North Common) will be reinstated to run hourly during the day Monday to Friday, following requests from customers.
Many Bath Park & Ride services will run on more regular weekend timetables to prepare for more customers visiting Bath as lockdown eases, and support an increase people returning to work, across the hospitality and retail sectors.
The weekend timetables to and from Bath City Centre will double to every 15 minutes on Newbridge Park & Ride Service 21; Lansdown Park & Ride Service 31; and Odd Down Park & Ride Service 41. The bus operator will continue to monitor capacity on-board these services during the week and will increase the frequency of buses if the demand changes.
The Park & Ride service 42 between Odd Down and Royal United Hospital will double to every 30 minutes for off-peak journeys Monday to Friday, to match customer demand.
On the Aquae services 39 (Bath – Bristol via Keynsham) and X39 (Bath – Bristol), the frequency of buses will increase to every 12 minutes at peak times and every 15 minutes for off-peak journeys. The weekend timetable on Service 39 will increase to every 15 minutes.
The Discover services will increase in frequency during the week for customers travelling between Bath, Salisbury, Trowbridge and Frome:
Service D1x between Bath and Trowbridge will additionally operate off-peak journeys, to increase capacity along this route.
Service D2 between Bath and Frome will double in frequency to run every 30 minutes.
Some changes are planned for services between Wells and Bath to provide additional buses for this route:
Services 173 (Wells to Bath via Gurney Slade) and 174 (Wells to Bath via Shepton Mallet) will operate hourly on weekdays. To match customer demand between Wells and Shepton Mallet, Service 174 will increase to operate every 30 minutes between these stops.
On the busiest section of route between Bath and Radstock/Midsomer Norton, Services 172 (Wells to Bath via Paulton), 173 (Wells to Bath via Gurney Slade) and 174 (Wells to Bath via Shepton Mallet) will provide up to six buses per hour on weekdays, and three buses per hour at weekends.
Changes to the University of Bath services include:
Service U1 (Oldfield Park – University of Bath) will increase to every 15 minutes for daytime journeys Monday to Friday. The weekend timetable will double in frequency to run every 20 minutes.
University services U3 and U6 continue to be suspended, as the University remains closed to students.
The Ralph Allen School service R2 continues to be suspended, due to low demand for bus travel to and from the school.