Agenda item

Update from Operators on Taunton £1 Fare, Government £2 Fare and Services Updates

To receive any updates from operators.


Simon Goff of Buses of Somerset was invited to give an update.  He apologised that it had been necessary to adjourn the meeting for one week.  The reason for this had been the imminent announcement of the closure of the Bridgwater Depot by First Buses.  He confirmed the depot would close at the end of September 2023.  However, all bus services would continue to operate.


The closure would see some services relocated to other depots ie Taunton, Minehead or Wells. 


He said whilst some routes were performing well and had recovered following the Pandemic, the closure of the Bridgwater Depot was necessary to ensure the long term sustainability of the bus service.


With regard to the £1 fares in Taunton, he reported there had been significant growth in trips made.  And 45.5% of all journeys were being made as £2 single way trips.

Overall passenger recovery had been good.  However, they were not quite back to pre-covid levels.


Stuart Radford, also of Buses of Somerset was invited to speak.  He said there had been changes to the timetable and he offered to send a copy of the new timetable with the Board.


During the discussion the following key issues were highlighted:

·         It was very important that everyone including the Council, the operators and campaign groups work together to promote the bus service.  Especially as fares were as low as they had been for some time.  The public should be encouraged to use the service.

·         The £2 scheme would increase to £2.50 from November 2023.  

·         The 20-21 corridor, Weston-super-Mare to Taunton.  It was suggested this service had run better when it was one service rather than two.

·         It was suggested the 77 bus service by returned to Wells

·         Changes to timetables need to be joined up across the Somerset network.  It was important for the service providers to provide a seamless service across the whole county.

·         It was suggested that a spare bus be kept at Minehead as part of the recovery plan.

·         It was further suggested that a service like the easy rider busses be introduced.

·         Ideally, the Bus Advisory Board should have been consulted on about the closure of the Bridgwater Depot in advance of the public announcement.

·         Concern for the welfare of drivers who had been used to using the Bridgwater Depot for breaks. 

·         Stuart Moon asked Ian Bell to contact him at to discuss statistics on the use of £1 and £2 fares.

·         Concern for spikes in sickness.  However, it was noted sickness levels were coming down and reliability would improve as a result.


The Chair thanked the participants.  He said the statistics were encouraging.  However, this was a very challenging time for the service.  He clarified that the Council has agreed in principle to provide some of it’s BSIP+ funding to offset the need for the bus operator to reduce the level of service on some routes which would otherwise be at risk, and noted that specific publicity campaigns will be needed to ensure passengers are aware these services will be at risk in the future if people don’t use them.   He committed to working with First group on an appropriate publicity campaign for these specific routes.


The update was noted.



Buses of Somerset will provide a copy of the new bus timetables to the Board.  Buses of Somerset to work with Somerset Council on a joint campaign to promote public use of routes that are likely to be at risk of reduced service.