Council leader “devastated” by latest bus service cuts

2:30pm - 01 September 2022

A further reduction of bus services is set to hit North Somerset following the announcement that a bus operator will cease operations in the area later this week.

In a statement published on its website earlier today (Thursday 1 September), the HCT Group – operating locally as Bristol Community Transport (BCT) – announced that its services will stop running from Saturday 3 September.

The services in question are:

  • 53 (within Clevedon).
  • 54 (Clevedon to Bristol Airport, serving Kenn, Yatton, Claverham and Cleeve).
  • 55 (South Bristol to Bristol Airport, serving Dundry and Barrow Gurney).

Residents who travel on these bus routes are therefore being warned as tomorrow (Friday 2 September) is the final day that these services will run.

In addition to the three services, HCT Group will also cease to operate the Metrobus M1 service. The council understands that another provider will recommence this service from Monday 5 September.

Reacting to the news, Councillor Steve Bridger, Leader of North Somerset Council, said: “I’m devastated to learn that North Somerset residents will suffer more bus cuts from this week. The impact of this on the elderly, young people, families and more, and at such short notice, is deeply concerning.

“Buses play a vital role serving our communities. They provide essential links to help residents get to school and college, get to work to earn a living, attend doctor and hospital appointments, shop and generally travel across the area. Buses are also key to our response to the climate emergency.

“I’m sympathetic to the dreadful situation the HCT Group finds itself in. My thoughts go out to their employees who after Saturday will find themselves unemployed.

“HCT Group’s withdrawal of services is the latest sign of complete market failure. In a cost of living crisis, bus operators are experiencing a rise in cost of fuel, driver shortages with increasing pay demands. While this is all happening, usage hasn’t yet returned to levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic, and Government support for the bus industry is due to end in March 2023.

“Unfortunately, we have very little direct influence over bus providers. For many years we have demanded more powers from central government and for more investment into public transport. Instead, we’re seeing a managed decline of bus services throughout the region and indeed across the country. Without further action from central government the situation is only going to get worse. I encourage residents to write to their local MP, as I am doing.”

Councillor Steve Hogg, North Somerset Council’s executive member with responsibility for transport, added: “We’re working with bus companies, the West of England Combined Authority and Bristol Airport to look at alternative options. This is a fluid situation and we’re trying to do all we can to find a solution.”

Originally founded as Hackney Community Transport in 1982, HCT Group was established in 2008.

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