Agenda item

Timetable Changes Proposed for 15th April 2024

Operators to present their proposals.


The Chair invited Operators to present timetable changes proposed for 15th April 2024.


With the aid of a powerpoint presentation, Dan Ashworth of First West of England outlined proposed changes to the following services:


·       Service 20

·       Service D2 & D2x

·       Service 171, 173 & 174

·       Service 55, 77, 77a

·       Service 374, 375, 376 & 376a


Board members were given the opportunity to ask questions.  A number of questions/comments were raised in relation to the following:


·       Connectivity with Service 21.

·       Connectivity with rail services and where possible identifying links with bus/rail interchange and making timetables clearer to identify routes that stop near railway stations.

·       Somerset Bus Partnership were keen to meet with First West of England regarding the details of the ongoing timetables and following the outcome of discussions with BANES.

·       The need for discussions with WECA/BANES on the naming of the Bath Interchange.

·       The need for double decker buses on route 77.

·       Strode College timings.

·       Concerns relating to the earliest bus from Yeovil to Wells being at 8.55am and the 7.30am being missed off the timetable.

·       Query regarding the timetable for Service 126.


Dan Ashworth agreed to circulate a copy of the presentation slides which included the proposed timetables.


With the aid of a powerpoint presentation, Terrance James of First South outlined planned network changes to the following services:


·       21/21a Taunton – Bridgwater – Burnham on Sea

·       22/22a/X22 Taunton – Wellington – Tiverton

·       51 Yeovil Town Service

·       EXMO Exmoor Coaster


Board members were given the opportunity to ask questions.  A number of questions/comments were raised which included the following:


·       The possibility of re-considering the finish date of 28th September on the Exmoor Coaster as this seemed to be quite early.  A finish date at the end of October would be able to include the half term school holidays.

·       The need for the 21/21a to connect onto Weston-super-Mare.


He then proceeded to outline planned network changes due to the end of the BSIP Funding period on the following services:


·       25 Taunton – Dulverton

·       28/X28 Taunton - Minehead

·       54 Yeovil - Taunton

·       58 Yeovil - Wincanton


Terrance James agreed to circulate the presentation slides and proposed timetables following the meeting.


The Chair expressed his extreme disappointment over the lateness in receiving the proposed changes particularly of the intention to withdraw services 54 and 58 and the lower frequency of services on the 25 and 28. He said that these were important routes, and the proposals would have a huge impact on people’s lives.  There had been no opportunity for discussions to be held with Somerset Council and this was unacceptable.  He suggested that an emergency meeting be held between First Bus and Somerset Council to discuss the proposals.


John Perrett, Service Manager – Transporting Somerset, said that a lot of work had been undertaken to try and raise numbers on the four under threat routes and he understood that numbers had increased on all four services. He referred to the lateness of the proposals presented and said that there had been no chance for discussions to be held and for the passenger numbers to be analysed in detail and possible options discussed.  He advised that funding for the four under threat routes was from BSIP plus funding and had been agreed until 31st March 2024.  Whilst BSIP Plus funding from government was not due to end until 31st March 2025 there was a reduction in the overall amount being received from government in 2024/25 compared to 2023/24 and therefore less flexibility in the amount of funding available.  He concluded that once further work had been undertaken and a meeting held an update would be provided.


Terrance James commented that he appreciated that the proposals had only recently been shared, however he believed that First Bus had always been very transparent in relation to the impact of reduced BSIP funding and the challenge in providing commercially viable services.


Members of the Board were given the opportunity to raise questions and comments during which concerns were expressed regarding the proposed changes.


Peter Fairey, Operations Director of South West Coaches said that as previously reported the No 1 service from Shepton Mallet to Yeovil had been deregistered with the last date of operation being 13th April 2024.  A procurement process was due to be undertaken shortly.


Chris Comer of Stagecoach said that they were looking to introduce Service 24 to operate between Tiverton and Taunton via Wellington linking in with the Taunton Park and Ride service.