Somerset Bus Services Under Threat

broken bus
Labour says “Fix broken bus policy”

Bus services across Somerset are under threat because the Government’s Bus Recovery Grant is set to end next March. The growth in working from home and continuing nervousness about Covid, particularly amongst older bus users, has resulted in bus passenger numbers at 30 – 25% below pre Covid levels. The withdrawal of Government funding will make many bus services no longer commercially viable. Nor will the new Somerset Unitary Council be in a position to step in and provide extra support for bus services, they may even be forced to scale back their support for buses as the costs of all the statutory services Somerset is obliged to support are soaring due to the current high rates of inflation that will only get even worse next year. Yet the cost of living crisis will mean buses will become an even more vital form of transport than ever. Plus there is climate change that means we should all be reducing our dependence on the car … but to be able to do that we need to have the option of going by bus. The Somerset Bus Users Forum is calling a Zoom meeting to rally support for the issue.

Glen Burrows “Urging people to come to zoom meeting”

Glen Burrows from the Somerset Bus Users Forum says “A meeting planned for 7:00pm on Tuesday November 1st will be an opportunity for people to explore the big challenges facing our bus services and what actions we urgently need to take if we are to protect bus services for our own town or our own village. If your residents use buses, then this meeting is a vitally important one for your community. We urge you to make every effort to join this session. If you aren’t able to join this meeting, maybe you could find an alternate who could represent your locality.”


The meeting will be on Zoom and can be accessed here.

Need to generate Public Support

Commenting on the statement from the Somerset Bus Partnership, Bridgwater Town Councils Economy spokesman Cllr Mick Lerry (Labour, Victoria) said: “While it has always been known that Covid would have an impact on bus passengers and journeys, we also have a position where bus operators are already lacking a marketing strategy needed to generate public support for the future of bus public transport. In carrying out a bus survey the Bridgwater Bus User group have discovered that the public would be interested in Bus Transport if the service was reliable and regular, with new bus routes and timetables. Many passengers find that there are no timetables at bus shelters and stops, so they are never sure if there is a bus service running. With the recent cuts in bus services, passengers are unable to get to and from work and are forced to seek alternative ways of travelling”.

Cllr Mick Lerry “need to encourage people to use public transport”

Mick continued “If you look to Cornwall and Devon you will find a number of Railtrail initiatives to encourage passengers to use public transport, where the bus service connects with rail and active travel. Often it is the case that Local Authorities have worked with bus and rail providers to encourage passengers onto public transport, in joint funding, marketing and timetable information. In Somerset the previous administration showed no interest in public transport and only got involved recently in the Bus Back Better scheme, which only produced 11 million rather than the 163 million being asked for. Many new Councillors stood on a manifesto to provide more funding for Public Transport in the local elections this year, so now is the time to honour that pledge. Now is the time to make sure that bus providers take seriously their business responsibility to market their service and get passenger numbers up, which will also be beneficial to the climate, regarding reduced co2 emissions. Some people in Somerset are struggling to get to a Medical Centres and Hospitals for their appointments and not every Somerset resident has a car or can obtain alternative transport. ”

Lobby for Investment

Cllr Tim Mander -Town Transport spokesman

Bridgwater Town Councillor Tim Mander (Westover) says “As BTC Transport Portfolio Holder together with the members of the Town Transport Forum I will continue to fight and lobby for a public bus service that Bridgwater deserves. The current climate crisis demands that there must be alternatives to car use which are green convenient and affordable for the public to use. The concern is that the current government is not investing sufficiently  in public transport and this needs to be reversed. The work currently being undertaken by the Somerset Bus Users Group is fully supported….”

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Martin Appleby
Martin Appleby
1 year ago

The bus service to the Community Hospital is erratic at the best of times. Whilst many people can go by car, there are also many who rely on the bus, only to find a wait of an hour. I have to go every 6 months to the glaucoma clinic and I can’t remember an appointment that even remotely coincided with a bus schedule. Consequently, I have to take a cab to go there and hope that I can get one to take me back. Over the past few years, I have spoken to others in the same situation.
Why can’t one of the local routes include the hospital on a regular basis ?

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