Bus company First could be made to accept tickets from other operators if more bus companies start running services in Bath under proposals advocated by Weston’s Conservative Councillors. Following the service cuts announced by the company two weeks ago, Councillors Colin Barrett and Malcolm Lees are asking Bath and North East Somerset Council to investigate utilising powers it has under the Transport Act 2000 to introduce a ‘multi-operator ticket system’.
News that Wessex Connect has expressed an interest in running the 20A/20C route as well as an alternative to the number 18 has been welcomed by local Conservatives. Cllr Barrett and Cllr Lees, who have been gathering signatures for a petition to save the 20A/20C in Weston, have said the additional competition would add weight to their idea of introducing a multi-operator ticket system since certain tickets bought on Wessex buses could also then be used on First buses.
The powers which they are asking the Council to investigate using mean that if there are an adequate number of bus operators in the area, bus companies can be forced to work together on a ticket system which can be used on all the bus services.
Councillor Colin Barrett (Con, Weston) said:
“The service cuts announced by First have been a blow to local communities in Bath. However, this does provide us with an opportunity to find new and innovative ways of improving public transport in the city. I hope the council is successful in finding an alternative operator to run the 20A/20C route and news that Wessex is interested is promising. This additional competition could open the door to the Council using powers under the Transport Act 2000, which I have highlighted and asked the Council to investigate using.”
Councillor Malcolm Lees added:
“If more bus companies do start operating in Bath, the proposals we are advocating could mean that the council uses powers it has to make First take tickets bought on other operators’ buses, such as Wessex. While more work would need to be done on the details of such a scheme, using these powers could make bus travel in Bath more convenient for passengers and perhaps encourage greater competition.”