Conservatives to call for more frequent bus service as part of ‘Quality Partnership’ talks

Bath and North East Somerset Council is being called upon to increase the number of direct buses between Radstock, Midsomer Norton and Bristol.

As part of negotiations to be undertaken with local bus companies for a new ‘Quality Bus Partnership’ for the Bristol to Midsomer Norton corridor, Conservative councillors are urging B&NES council to agree a more frequent bus service for this route.

At its meeting next week, B&NES Council’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet is set to agree to start negotiations with bus companies on a voluntary contract which will determine standards of service, fare levels, and service frequency along the route. The negotiations are part of the £70 million Greater Bristol Bus Network project, which has already seen new bus stops and bus priority measures installed along the route and will involve the council, First Bus and other bus companies which operate along the A37 corridor.

Conservative councillors in Midsomer Norton have campaigned for several years to see an increase in the number of daily buses between the town and Bristol, which currently has only one bus a-day in each direction. The current Quality Partnership proposals include the idea of an hourly Midsomer Norton and Paulton to Bristol bus service as only an ‘aim’ for the future.

However, Conservatives have pledged to push for this to be included as a firm commitment, arguing that linking the Midsomer and Bristol with a better bus service will help support the local economy and encourage more people onto local buses. They are also calling for the more frequent service to be extended to Radstock and Writhlington, in order to provide a much-needed more frequent service from Writhlington and increasing the viability of the service by enabling more passengers to access it.

Midsomer Norton councillor Barry Macrae (MSN North) said:

“This is a one-off chance for the council to finally deliver this long-awaited bus service improvement, so B&NES must not let this opportunity pass. It makes no sense at all that this key bus route is served by just one bus a day in each direction. It has been designated as a main bus corridor by the council, with investment already put into bus priority measures and new bus stops ready for real-time information displays. Now B&NES must secure an agreement from FirstBus or another bus company to run a more frequent direct bus service between our town and Bristol. The current statement that this is a future ‘aim’ for this bus corridor is simply not strong enough.”

Fellow Midsomer Norton councillor Chris Watt (MSN Redfield) added:

“A more frequent fast-bus between Midsomer Norton and Bristol is something residents have asked for and that we’ve campaigned on for many years. We nearly had an agreement for Wessex Connect to deliver this a couple of years ago, but competition from First scuppered that plan. If this can finally be delivered it will make it easier for shoppers and commuters from Midsomer Norton to go to Bristol, and will also allow more day-trippers from Bristol to come to Midsomer Norton. It’s vital we have good transport links to our region’s biggest city and economic hub.”