On Saturday, November 9th First Bus will cease to operate the 179 bus service between Bath and Paulton. On the current Monday to Friday time table this service is subsidised by B&NES Council at a cost of £2,223 per week.
B&NES policy is to maintain the current non-commercial bus network as far as possible until such time as the West of England Combined Authority has completed and implemented its Bus Strategy. Bus companies have been invited to tender for a variety of possible 179 services to continue from November 9th.
Most bids submitted were unaffordable, For example an all-day Saturday service would require a subsidy of around £1,000 a day. However, one option is under serious consideration.
This Monday-to-Friday timetable would extend the 179 route to Midsomer Norton and increase the interval between buses to two and a half hours. It would address some of the issues raised by passengers including an earlier first bus to Tesco and Midsomer Norton; an earlier morning peak bus to Bath, an afternoon peak departure from Bath and better co-ordination between services 179 and 768.
This co-ordination would include 768 services to Bath in the morning and from Bath in the afternoon. Tickets would be valid on both 179 and 768. Bids for this new option have been considered in July and a decision to go ahead is expected in August. If finally agreed this service would be guaranteed until August 2020.
Efforts to create a 179 Bath-to-Wells express service continue and public consultation on the WECA Bus Strategy is expected to begin in the autumn this year.
Alongside the work of B&NES officers local parish councils have established a Rural Transport Group to work towards a solution for rural transport issues and to develop future strategies. One of its first actions has been to carry out a survey of transport priorities for those living in villages along the route of the 179 service. A survey form is being delivered to all homes in the area in July and responses will be evaluated early in August.