Conservative councillors in Midsomer Norton have raised concerns over First Bus’s commitment to improving services to Midsomer Norton and Radstock. Local Conservatives have vowed that they will continue to campaign on the issue and lobby First for improved services from the Norton-Radstock area to both Bristol and Bath.
The Conservative Cabinet on Bath and North East Somerset Council is spending over £200,000 on the ‘Greater Bristol Bus Network’ project, which will see new bus lanes and ‘real-time’ information displays installed at new bus stops on routes serving Midsomer Norton and Radstock. As part of this project it has always been planned that First would provide new buses and run improved services along these routes to go with the infrastructure improvements the council is supplying.
However, while residents are currently seeing work start on the new ‘Showcase Bus Routes’, doubt has now been cast over whether the timetable improvements promised by First will materialise. Local councillors have said that it is vital that First keep to its commitment and delivers the much needed service improvements.
Barry Macrae, Conservative Councillor for Midsomer Norton North, commented:
“Local Conservatives have worked hard to secure funding for the Greater Bristol Bus Network so it’s now crucial First Bus remains committed to its side of the project.
“The new bus lanes, together with improvements to bus stops, will make a real difference to passengers, but First must deliver the service improvements needed to both Bath and Bristol. This must include modern, clean buses as well as a frequent, reliable timetable which meets local residents’, and their customers’, needs.”
Fellow Conservative Councillor John Whittock (Midsomer Norton Redfield) added:
“Where these ‘Showcase Bus Routes’ have already been constructed in Bristol they have seen a ten per cent increase in passenger numbers, so I’m sure there is a strong business case for First to run more services to the Norton Radstock area along the improved routes.
“My fellow Midsomer Norton councillors and I will lobby First on the need for these improvements and ask the council to do what it can to put pressure on them.”
Midsomer Norton councillors Chris Watt, Shirley Steel, Barry Macrae and John Whittock have said they will be contacting First to seek assurance that the company is still fully committed to the Greater Bristol Bus Network Project.