Investing in North Somerset bus services
Two new ‘kick-start’ contracts have been awarded by North Somerset Council as it continues to invest in local bus services.
These contracts will result in improvements to bus services in Weston-super-Mare using funding from developments, alongside investment in the key inter-urban routes serving the district.
The council has awarded a kick-start contract to secure the full commercialisation of the key inter-urban bus services in North Somerset. Kick-start contracts work by providing up-front funding which will help to grow the services to a viable level with no further financial support from the council.
As a result of this investment, the key ‘X’ routes provided by First will see a series of improvements as part of a fresh new look. First will operate these services commercially, with minimum service standards agreed with the council.
An exciting addition to the network will be the new service X7, replacing the current X6A route. Service X7 will link Bristol and Weston every hour, connecting with Nailsea, Clevedon, Yatton, Congresbury and West Wick along the route. This will improve connections between these local towns and villages and, in particular, responds to requests from Yatton residents for a regular bus link to Congresbury and Weston.
In Weston, funding from developments has been used to improve local bus services in the town. A kick-start contract has been awarded to operate bus routes serving West Wick and Locking Castle with surrounding areas, including the Flowerdown Retail Park, with Weston town centre.
Following this investment, First will enhance their service 3 to serve new areas and to complement the new service X7, which will serve areas of Weston. This will provide new links to Clevedon, Nailsea and Bristol for West Wick residents and the combination of services will mean buses every 15 minutes through West Wick.
First are committed to providing high-quality buses on their routes with on-board facilities including leather seats, free wifi, next stop announcements and free Metro newspapers for passengers. They are also putting together a promotional package that will include a free trial period for passengers to try out the new services as well as other ticketing offers.
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s deputy leader and executive member responsible for transport, said: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to invest positively in our local bus services. Kick-start contracts are a great way of investing in the North Somerset bus network, providing service improvements for passengers and creating new journey opportunities.
“In the long-term these contracts will also reduce pressure on the public purse as bus services become commercial and no longer require council funding. I believe this is a really positive step for buses in North Somerset and I look forward to working with First to grow the bus network for our residents.”
Andrew Sherrington, General Manager for Weston-super-Mare, Wells and Bath at First West of England, said: “We are really proud to stand alongside our partners at North Somerset Council to make greater improvements to the bus network. This will have a profound impact on bus users throughout the district. As well as the benefit to our customers, we are also creating new jobs in Weston which will benefit the local economy.”
New contracts will start on Sunday 30 April with timetable information available at local libraries and online at www.travelinesw.com in the weeks prior to this start date.