New coach operator for North Somerset commuter service

From April North Somerset Council is introducing a new coach operator to run its commuter service between North Somerset and major employment areas in north Bristol.

The North Bristol Commuter Coach, which launched in November 2013 and achieved an outstanding 100 per cent customer satisfaction rating in 2014, has recently been reviewed by the council and current operator The Kings Ferry after passenger numbers fell to an uneconomic level.

In order to improve demand and ensure the commuter coach service is fit for purpose, the route and timetable will be redesigned in April with a new local operator to reduce overheads. It is hoped the changes will safeguard this important service for future users, creating an operation that is sustainable in the long-term.

The council is working with local operator Crosville Motor Services to carry on the service from Monday 25 April. Based in Weston-super-Mare, Crosville already operates a number of local bus services and coach hire as well as recently securing the high-profile EDF contract for the Hinkley Point C project. With its local experience and growing business, Crosville is in the ideal position to take forward the North Bristol Commuter Coach service.

The Kings Ferry will meanwhile close its satellite depot at Avonmouth, with the last coach running on Friday 22 April. The Kings Ferry will concentrate on its established network of commuter services in the South East, transporting hundreds of passengers to London each day.

Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for transport, said: “It is a great shame that, despite The Kings Ferry’s pioneering efforts, insufficient commuters to the north fringe of Bristol have taken up this service, apparently choosing instead the frustrations and congestion on the M5 to get to and from work on a daily basis.

“It’s difficult to understand this as the commuter coach provides a less expensive and much more relaxing and efficient service. I haveĀ  to conclude that many commuters just still aren’t aware of the benefits. Hopefully the changes we are going to make and new marketing will win them over.”

Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Managing Director of Crosville Motor Services, said: “This is very exciting to see Crosville venturing into Bristol and it is also a great opportunity for further business growth as well as expanding our geographical area of operation.”

Ian Fraser, Managing Director of The Kings Ferry, said: “We are pleased people in North Somerset will continue to benefit from a commuter service and would like to thank everybody involved for their hard work over the past two-and-a-half years.”

The revised route will combine Weston-super-Mare and Portishead journeys on service C1 and Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon on the C2 service. All coaches will continue to serve key employment sites in the north fringe of Bristol, including Aztec West, Rolls Royce, Airbus and the Ministry of Defence.

The redesigned timetable will also allow return journeys from Bristol in the morning peak, including improved links from Clevedon to Weston-super-Mare at commuter times. Outward journeys from Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead will also be available in the evening peak.

As a goodwill gesture to current passengers and to encourage new customers to try the service, Crosville will offer free travel on the commuter coach service from 25 April to Friday 6 May.

Current passengers with The Kings Ferry are being contacted with details of the new arrangements. For more information contact The Kings Ferry on 01634 377 577.