Buses in Timsbury Meeting 5th November Notes
38 members of the public attended to discuss the issue with the Parish Council.
Residents described many ways that the new 179 service is inadequate and has disrupted their lives and demanded action to improve the situation and provided contact details to be kept involved.
Villagers spoke of the anxiety they face over losing jobs that require them to be in Bath on Sundays and the difficulty they will face on Saturdays and during the week. One group of children at St Gregory’s School now have to wait one hour and 20minutes at a bus stop to get home each day. College students face a two hour wait before starting college and after their courses finish. On a Saturday one mother faced a two-hour journey to get into Bath with her toddler and young child. Another villager said their partner now struggled to get to his job in Welton. And one teenager may lose his Apprenticeship.
Chris Gittins the Parish Clerk explained the main facts of what has happened:
The Parish Council has been working for some months to ensure the future of bus services including lobbying B&NES and the West of England Mayor to support Franchising of services. They are seriously considering this because in Franchising they could say what groups of services are needed and put it out to contract as a franchise, including some cross-funding of non-commercial services by profitable ones – this is what happens in London and would work for us. But this will take some years to set up.
Then suddenly First Bus gave their required minimum 10 weeks’ notice to B&NES to cut the 179 bus, saying it is not commercially viable. First is a large company who just works commercially and has no commitment otherwise.
B&NES now employs only one person on public transport after cutting staff.
B&NES responded by paying First to continue a reduced 2 hourly service from 28th October by diverting some B&NES subsidy to continue a service on Monday to Friday and nothing on Sunday. Also, they funded Arleen Coaches to run a one bus in & out on Saturdays. This arrangement will be ‘under review’ in August, after which we fear that there will be no further funding to support this arrangement.
The 768 service is also limited in usefulness due to its route and timetable.
Rosemary Naish from Clutton Parish Council suggested that all relevant village Parish Councils could set up a community bus in case the service is lost in August, using ‘106 Agreement’ funds from house building in Clutton. It would be under a ‘section 22 permit’.
This was generally supported but with many questions about access to Midsomer Norton and Radstock rather than Clutton, the suitability for workers, school children, students, shoppers and other users, ticketing, costs and integration with other services. Although it is worth investigating, the current larger bus is often full, and it would not be enough for an already overused service during rush hours nor many other bus users’ needs in Timsbury or other villages.
Also, the Parish Council are meeting next week with Priston Parish Clerk to discuss the potential for car share using rideshare apps which may help users for gaps in services.