Hospital bus service under threat from First

Posted on Monday 25th June 2012 at 11:42 am by SH (Editor)

Number 18 bus service pictured in Little Stoke, Bristol.

Another local bus service is under threat after First announced its intention to withdraw the Council-subsidised number 18, which runs between Emersons Green and Southmead Hospital, via Frenchay Hospital.

The service, which calls at Parkway Station and runs along Hatchet Road, Little Stoke Lane, Kingsway and Gipsy Patch Lane, is operated with financial support from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC).

The contract was only awarded in September last year after the 517/8 service was discontinued under a Bristol City Council re-tendering exercise.

First Bus has indicated that, although after amending the timetable a number of times and passenger numbers rising from 8,000 to 15,000 per month, the revenue they receive is not enough and so they have now given the Council three months notice to terminate the contract.

The news comes just three months after rival company Wessex Connect announced it intended to withdraw the U7, U8 and 482 services that operate along Braydon Avenue and Stoke Lane. Following protests from passengers, SGC stepped in to subsidise the previously commercially-run services from 20th May, albeit with a reduced number of journeys.

The Council has so far refused to disclose how much it is paying Wessex Connect to provide the services under a temporary agreement that runs until September.

Conservative Councillors for Emersons Green, Colin Hunt, Dave Kearns and James Hunt, said:

“First’s decision makes absolutely no sense because in the nine short months that the 18 service has been running, passenger numbers have almost doubled from 8,000 to 15,000 per month.”

“A bus service really doesn’t get any more lifeline than this and so we are pleased that council officers are investigating what alternatives can be put in place to ensure that bus passengers aren’t inconvenienced by First’s bus cut.”

A spokesperson for First Bus told the Bristol Post:

“We began operating this service in September 2011 and have done everything we can to make it financially viable since then, for instance altering the timetable a number of times to make it more punctual and reliable and therefore more attractive to customers.

“Problems still remain though and while passenger numbers have increased since we’ve had the contract, they are still short of what we had hoped, making the service financially unsustainable for us.”

Related link: Bus Services in Stoke Gifford (The Journal)

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One Response to “Hospital bus service under threat from First”

  1. SH (Editor) Says:

    Stoke Gifford Parish Council reports on it website today that First Bus has rescinded its notice to terminate the number 18 service, following discussions with South Gloucestershire Council. A new modified timetable will see the evening and weekend service operated hourly.

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