Bradley Stoke South set to lose all daytime bus services

A U7 bus at a stop in Webbs Wood Road, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

Bus service changes being proposed by Wessex Connect look set to leave the whole of Bradley Stoke South without a daytime bus service for six days of the week.

In a press release put out today, the bus company has announced its intention to withdraw services U7, U7A. U8 and the Monday-Saturday service of the 482/483, with effect from Sunday 20th May 2012.

The Council-subsidised Sunday and Bank Holiday service of the 482 will, however, continue “until further notice”.

The cuts will leave Bradley Stoke Way (south of Savages Wood Roundabout), Webbs Wood Road and Baileys Court Road without any bus services at all before around 7:30pm Monday through Saturday. After that time, the 73B, operated by First Bristol, provides an approximately hourly service.

On Sundays only, the 73B will continue to provide an all-day hourly service to the south of the town.

The axing of the 482 Chipping Sodbury to Cribbs Causeway service will leave no buses serving the stop on Webbs Wood Road near the junction with The Bluebells (except on Sundays), while the loss of the both the U7A and 483 will leave no buses at all serving the Aztec West Business Park and no buses travelling along Bradley Stoke Way between the Willow Brook Centre and Patchway Brook Roundabout (a stretch where a bus lane is about to be constructed as part of a package of road safety measures).

The axing of the U7, U7A and U8 will happen just ten months after Bradley Stoke South lost its through-the-day service to Bristol city centre when those new, less comprehensive, services replaced the former 71 and 72. When that change was originally proposed, the area was to be left without any Monday-Saturday daytime services at all but following protests from passengers and local Councillors, Wessex Connect agreed to change the route of the peak-time-only U8 so that it also visited the south of town.

Wessex Connect says it has been forced to make the cuts because of the challenges it faces in the current economic climate, citing continued cost increases and “limited opportunity to increase existing revenue without extortionate price increases”.

The bus company’s press statement justifies the move as follows:

“Following the recent decision by the Chancellor to continue with the Fuel Duty Rate increase planned for August 2012, along with the reduction in Bus Service Operator’s Grant by 20% from April 2012 and current increasing fuel costs, we have reviewed our network of services and ability to operate services within the current climate.”

“Discussions are taking place with local authorities in relation to these service withdrawals and should any agreement be reached for a continued operation of service(s), we will of course advise our customers accordingly. Wessex apologises for any inconvenience this may cause to our customers, however this is brought about by circumstances beyond our control.”

A number of users of the threatened services have already contacted The Journal to express their dismay at the proposals.

Linda Hanney told us:

“I live in Bradley Stoke South and work at Rolls-Royce. I had to surrender my driving licence last year after 38 years of driving because of failing eyesight. With the withdrawal of the U7, U8 and now the 482/483 bus ‘services’, I am now effectively cut off from my mother, who is in a care home in Yate, my father, my daughter (482/483), my place of work, my Doctor (Bradley Stoke Surgery), The Mall, central Bristol, Parkway Station, Tesco at Bradley Stoke, Sainsburys at Filton, as well as regular appointments in Little Stoke and Bradley Stoke North.”

Another passenger, Kim Tozer, said:

“This is going to make life difficult for myself and people who are non-drivers or do not have a car. I use the 6:47 from Baileys Court every morning and the 5:15 home. When this service started it meant more time in work and less time home with family.”

“The withdrawal of all services now means a bigger change. Commuting and general use of buses for many will involve a walk, for some of up to an hour. Impossible for someone who has limited mobility or is elderly. Not ideal in the dark winter either. The elderly, infirm or those with children will find it difficult to get to the bus. The elderly have already been made reliant on family and friends because of the lack of a bus after 7:30 am. It will mean people will have to drive or be driven to work or be driven to bus stops which will cause more road congestion.”

“Who wants to live in an area where there is no bus service, so close to a large town and shopping mall. The local Council has the audacity to suggest we leave our cars at home and use public transport – great! Where is it?”

Operation of the U7, U7A and U8 services appears to have been far from trouble-free since their introduction in September 2011. According to passengers we have spoken to, buses frequently run late or don’t turn up at all. Then again, one passenger complained to a recent meeting of Patchway Town Council that the U7 and U8 buses often ran earlier than timetabled through Stoke Lodge. There have also been reports of drivers taking the wrong route and missing out stops or getting completely lost and ending up in some of the many cul-de-sacs in Bradley Stoke.

When The Journal’s photographer went out to snap the 9:21 U7 arriving in Webbs Wood Road this morning, he found UWE student Anya waiting at the stop. She said she had learned of the plan to axe the service through a hand-written note taped to the bus stop, adding:

“I use this service four times a week to get to my lessons at the University’s Frenchay campus. If they stop the U7, I’ll have to walk from here to the Kemperleye Way stop on Brook Way, catch the 73 to Sainsbury’s and walk again at the other end to UWE.”

The Journal asked South Gloucestershire Council, which oversees all bus services in the district, for a statement but they were unable to provide one in time for this article. However, an email (dated 28th March) sent from one of the Council’s Transport Officers to a concerned Bradley Stoke resident and forwarded to The Journal by the resident reads:

“We were made aware yesterday and had it confirmed via the VOSA website that Wessex Connect have applied to de-register these U7, U7a and U8 with effect from 20th May 2012. This will mean that there will be no service as things currently stand. It has been made known that the new services have not been covering the cost of provision and as they are run on commercial basis Wessex Connect have made this commercial decision.”

“As you are aware from the situation from the withdrawal of the 71/72 services there is not sufficient budget to replace these services but we will be in discussions with operators to investigate alternatives but cannot guarantee they will be in place before these services cease to operate.”

A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council later confirmed:

“We have been notified that Wessex have lodged paperwork with the Traffic Commissioner to withdraw these services from Sunday 20th May. Council officers are actively investigating the potential for alternative provision and will continue discussions with the operator about an interim solution.”

Opportunities to have your say about the proposed cuts

The elected South Gloucestershire Councillors for Bradley Stoke South are Robert Jones and John Ashe; their contact details can be found on the Council Members page of the Bradley Stoke Town Council website.

Bradley Stoke Town Council holds its next Councillor Surgery at the Willow Brook Centre between 10am and 12 noon on Saturday 7th April.

The next Town Council meeting is that of the Leisure, Amenities & Youth Committee on Monday 16th April at the Jubilee Centre (7:30pm start), where members of the public can have their say during a 15-minute session at the start of the meeting.

Contact details for Wessex Connect can be found here on their website.

Related link: Bus Services in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)

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  1. Maybe, just maybe, someone in the ivory towers of SGC or BSTC could explain why we, the taxpayers, are funding bus lane expansions only for these lanes to then sit idle? We aren’t talking chicken feed here either.

    It just beggars belief that our money is so liberally wasted on pet schemes. There’s a genuine need to sort out the awful traffic congestion we all endure on a daily basis and the actions of the bus companies only serve to put more cars on the roads. It’s so nice to be sat on the A38 approaching Aztec West in two totally stationary lanes of traffic whilst there’s a bus lane provided at great expense completely devoid of buses.

  2. Should have also mentioned that without the U7A, U8 and 483. there will be no buses travelling along Pear Tree Road (Bradley Stoke North) after 20th May.

  3. It is about time that a regular local Bradley Stoke, Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke service was started, based at Parkway station.

    Who knows, then they might be able to link the Park and Ride carpark behind Parkway station.

  4. Catch up report in the Evening Post this morning, in which Stoke Gifford Cllr Keith Cranney is quoted as saying:

    “For a town and population the size of Bradley Stoke and Stoke Gifford to be treated like a third world country with a third rate bus service is an absolute disgrace.”

    Read more: Residents will be cut off if bus axed

  5. Oh great, another step backward in the Bradley Stoke transport stakes.

    It’s beyond belief that this service wasn’t better used, it is half the cost of First bus – which are putting their prices up this weekend.

    A sad loss of service in Bradley Stoke which has left us at the mercy of First.

  6. I think one of the reasons the service was not well used was because of the times it ran. I walk my dog around 6 am and the 6.15 always came along empty. I have to do an extra hour in work a day before getting the 5.15 home which has impacted on home life.

    When I caught the U7 one afternoon from the Mall after Christmas the bus driver was absolutely thrilled. There were three of us on the bus. He confessed to being lucky to pick up one or two passengers a day on that run.

    When the meetings were held last year about the change in bus service we (the passengers) told Wessex Connect that it was doomed to fail because there were not enough UWE students living in Bradley Stoke but apparently they had done a survey and it was financially viable to run the UWE bus instead of the 71/72. They had apparently done a survey on both these buses which proved they were not much used. The survey was carried out in the school holidays when the usual passengers would have been home with their kids.

  7. Once again we are going to be without a bus service around Bradley Stoke South area.
    I know the large bus companies have a monopoly to run bus routes that give them high profits.
    Is there not another transport company willing to provide a bus service for us.
    that would be well used by the general public. I think Wessex Connect were only interested in the university routes

  8. Me and all other passengers from Bradley Stoke are all very upset with this decision as there will be no public transport from Bradley Stoke South to city centre for commute during weekdays.

    In Bradley Stoke South, we have a big community with loads of families, young professionals and elderly people. Yet, these U8 buses were the only way to get to city centre if we don’t have cars. We definitely need replacement, if it’s not possible to retain U8, for this route. U8 has been a life line for my working life, and this will cause huge problems to all people without car.

    U8 serves has been really loosely ran the past months. At least once a week, bus driver went wrong ways leaving more than 10 people behind. We experienced quite a few times machine didn’t work therefore we were not charged. In addition, we have too many buses between 5 and 6:30 am. Majority of commuters are traveling at 7-7:30am from Bradley Stoke aiming to get to city before 9am. Yet, there are so many buses going so early being almost empty. I’m sure these facts contributed Wessex Connect’s financial difficulty to continue U8 serves. We have always 60-90% occupancy on the last U8 bus which leaves Bradley Stoke 7:20 arriving to city 8:25. In my opinion, there are other options rather than canceling all together; limit the number to the time passengers want to use. And of course train the drivers well.

    I checked time table on Wessexred website. Still couldn’t find the announcement of the canceling of U7, U7a, U8 at the obvious places. We have to let as many people as possible know about this tragic loss of public transport from these area and make our voice out.

  9. It is about time that First/SGC/Wessex looked at a regular BPW/UWE service to Cribbs Causeway using a number of routes round Bradley Stoke North/South, Stoke Gifford and Little Stoke.

    The population of this area is bout 40-50K and can support a local bus service, and not just one that takes people to the centre of Bristol. A local route that links with the 73/X73 at a number of stops regularly can probably solve this issue.

    However, with all the money spend by SGC on the new GBBN, may be nothing can be done.

  10. I use the U8 service up to three times a week to get into work for a 7.30am start and will now be forced to walk to Orpheous Ave to catch the 73 service. This is a walk that I can make, but many people may not be able to. During the winter months and bad weather this walk, in the dark at 6am will not be something I look forward to, but as my family have made the decision to use public transport and limit our car use I have no choice. I agree that the early buses at 6am and 6.15am are quiet on the first few pick-ups but as the bus moves through Filton and in towards Bristol it gets busier. All the regular users thought that the U7 route was doomed to fail, as we could not see who would want to travel around Bradley Stoke/Parkway/UWE. As earlier people have commented, it’s not as if Bradley Stoke is a booming student residence! If the 71/72 service can not be resurrected then perhaps the alternative option would be for First to run the 73B service all day? Or at least during the morning rush hour in the same way as it does in the evening? Whatever the solution may be there needs to be a service that allows the residents from the South of Bradley Stoke access the centre of Bristol without having to walk a mile, or more, to do so.

  11. Can someone at SGC please explain how the decision to curtail the U7/8 bus services equate with their stated policy of encouraging people to use buses? The traffic in the vicinity of Bristol Parkway in the peak hours is horrendous, but we have wonderful new bus lanes, which cost god knows how much, with no buses using them!!

    The so called “service” from the bus companies is truly dreadful.

  12. At the meeting held at Filton last August someone was there from the Four Town Transport. He said that they would try to up their service to make life easier for those who lost the bus service. But its only for people who have the free bus pass so that is no help for some one like me who is on a limited budget and not old enough to have the card but doesnt drive. What do we do?

  13. Nice to see this story featured on BBC Points West this lunchtime. Their piece showed posters featuring extracts from this article that someone has stuck up in local bus shelters. Might be repeated tonight in the 6:30pm programme on BBC1.

  14. “Loss of bus services in Bradley Stoke” is an item on the agenda for the meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council’s Planning Committee tomorrow (Wed 25th Apr) at the Jubilee Centre (7:30pm start).

    The meeting is open to the public and any resident of Bradley Stoke may attend and have their say.

    According to a poster seen on bus stops in Bradley Stoke South:

    “Roy Steele (SGC Principal Transport Officer) and Martin Harris (SGC Transport & Procurement Manager) have both confirmed that they will be attending the meeting. Justin Thomson, the Commercial Manager of Wessex Connect has also been invited to attend.”

    Source: Poster on bus stops in Bradley Stoke South

  15. Around 25 members of the public turned up at tonight’s meeting of the BSTC planning Committee to have their say about the proposed bus cuts.

    They heard Roy Steele (SGC Principal Transport Officer) say that he hopes to get executive approval for “replacement services” that will run for a “provisional period” between 20th May and September.

    During this period, the services will continue to be run by Wessex Connect but will be subsidised by the Council (they are presently unsubsidised).

    The Council is in talks with another operator about putting in place a “permanent solution” from September, he added.

    A full report will follow once we have confirmation from SGC that the “replacement service” has been approved.

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