Open Letter: Calling on the WECA Metro Mayor and all Group Leaders in WECA to Franchise the Bus Service Across the West of England
Open Letter: Calling on the WECA Metro Mayor and all Group Leaders in WECA to suspend the deregulated bus market and provide a franchised bus service under contract through the West of England Combined Authority
As residents and organizations in the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) (covering Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, South Gloucester) and North Somerset, we are deeply concerned by the present cuts to essential bus services. The impact of these lost services will mean many, including the most vulnerable, will be unable to make essential journeys including to shops, schools, and doctors and hospitals.
We appreciate that the cuts to the bus services is the decision of privately run bus companies and although WECA is the regional transport authority, which does have some control over bus routes, the way that central Government has devolved power to the private bus industry means that the present system of a deregulated bus system is not fit for purpose and fails to put in place a reliable, vital, and affordable bus service for the benefit of everyone in the region.
The private bus companies are entirely profit-driven, so they’re justifying the bus cuts with the falling passenger numbers, rising fuel and wage costs, and driver shortages that make the services unprofitable with no regard for the public need. Further, the financial support from the government during the pandemic will soon end and the private bus companies are not obliged to continue running services that don’t make them profits. This deregulated market is always at odds with the bus services that many in our communities need to get to work, school, shops, and health centres.
These changes to local bus services are making many residents genuinely fearful that people of all ages and abilities will be cut off from vital facilities they need to live well. Further, the loss of public transport will worsen congestion on the roads, increase air pollution, and undermine commitments WECA has made to reduce its carbon emissions and its climate emergency pledge.
Following the Metro Mayor’s “Big Choices on Buses”, this summer, residents across the region made clear their frustration with the already poor bus services provided and the lack of joined up ticketing options, often leaving children and the vulnerable stranded. Residents want and demand an overhaul of this broken bus system.
The current constitution of WECA requires that the Metro Mayor and the three group leaders of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, and South Gloucester to all agree to make changes to the bus services. This open letter is calling for them to put in place bus franchising. Bus Franchising requires WECA to suspend the deregulated bus market and provide a bus service under contract from WECA.
This open letter calls on the Metro Mayor, Dan Norris, and all local leaders to use the powers they already have to deliver a franchised bus service across WECA and North Somerset. Residents want and deserve a bus service that delivers for all, and the only way for this to take place is for WECA to use its powers under the WECA constitution to deliver bus franchising.
The WECA Constitution States:
The West of England Mayoral functions:
- Devolved and consolidated local transport budget (including maintenance funding)
- Identify a Key Route Network
- Prepare a Local Transport Plan including:
- Strategic infrastructure delivery plan
- Bus strategy; including all quality partnership arrangements and Bus Services
- Bill Powers, for example franchising
- Key Route Network (management and maintenance principles)
See page 4 of The West of England Combined Authority Constitution
This open letter highlights that the loss of bus service harms the interests of residents including, but not limited to:
- The elderly are disproportionally affected as they often lack access to private vehicles, their health increasingly limits their ability to drive and move around, and, so, buses become a critical service.
- Many disabilities and medical conditions result in serious mobility issues making it harder to gain a driving license and makes bus services an essential part of day-to-day living.
- Children and young people are unable to drive and encouraging them to use public transport and sustainable transport options, e.g. walking and cycling, has been proved to create a lifelong habit of opting for active and healthier travel choices.
- Obtaining a licence and driving are often a barrier for people whose native tongue isn't English
We know that the WECA leadership have the power to transform the existing bus service; to make it work for all residents across the West of England. How people are able to travel should be central to WECA’s constitutional commitments.
Please suspend the deregulated broken bus market and provide a franchised bus service under contract through the West of England Combined Authority that is fit for the future.
We look forward to your collective action.
|Recently got shot if my car thinking No 5 would serve well enough - but it’s nit to be. For heavens sake get something sorted for all routes and maybe cut one or two off Gloucester Road
|Buses are major public infrastructure and vital to people's lives. Making profit and deciding whether to cancel services should not be in the gift of private companies. They should be publicly owned and operated at best, franchised out as a compromise.
|Bus services do not work well when privatised.
|Bus services removed in my area, absolutely despicable during current climate crisis/cost of living crisis. Shame on local authorities for not stepping in to sort out this issue.
|Franchising the bus services is the only way to create a network of bus services that connect all sections of the community in the west of England. Leadership across the three unitaries at a time when many face surging bills on every front is needed to create a public transport network that would help all of the community to get to work, education, health and local amenities whilst helping reduce pollution and carbon out put from private vehicles.
|Buses are essential public services and a key part of the functional public transport system we need to tackle climate change. The recent cuts show more clearly than ever how essential it is to change to a franchising system, as Dan Norris does not have the powers he needs to respond.
|Would definitely use a bus service if it was available. Too many cars on the road and not enough public transport if any for local villages.
|I don't use the bus service in Bristol because they are over priced and terrible. However, many people rely on buses. Franchised services would greatly improve life for them.
|Public transport in Bristol is so disorganised, which causes untold upheaval to those who rely on it.
|Good reliable public transport is ESSENTIAL for social justice and for meeting net zero 2030 targets.
|I use buses. They have become unreliable. I want to continue to use them, encourage more users to reduce congestion, and pollution
|Because the bus service in Bristol is appalling
|I used to live in Bristol and care passionately about welfare and justice.
|I need the Y3 bus for my commute to and from work in Bristol.
|It is important to have a more fair and efficient bus service.
|The buses will fail unless we take more local control. Please help!
|As an older person, when the Y3 and Y4 buses no longer run up Whiteshill, I shall be isolated - unable to get to my doctors in Winterbourne, or to the shops in Bristol or Yate
|Although I don't live in Bristol my job is based there as well as family who need to get to school, work, shops etc.
|I live in Winterbourne and my daughter will go to school in Bristol. We are facing no buses to reach the city, and no safe routes to walk to any nearby routes - we therefore might have to drive and create more traffic.
This urgently needs action to protect our right to mobility - in a time of climate emergency we need to see more public transport and not less!
|Our child takes the bus to school
These are necessary services
To tackle the climate emergency we need reliable bus services
|I don’t have a driving licence and use the bus regularly. My daughter has SEN and relies on the bus to go to school. The current situation creates a lot of anxiety. The school threatens to give detention to the children who are late to school when they are not to blame.
|Because I have young children who will be totally isolated by the lack of buses, and because I care about the environmental impact of increased car use.
|Public transport needs to be accessible cost wise and reliable to help people move away from cars. At the moment people who used to use buses are left high and dry and having to buy cars to get to work and education.
|We have seen too many bus routes cut.
|As a parent whose child crosses Bath to get to school, a reliable, affordable bus service is essential. We have been told today that prices are reducing on all services except school buses! That means our children will have to keep paying £4 a day, simply unaffordable. It's no wonder our roads are clogged with people driving kids to school.
|The poor bus services have detrimental effects across society including to non-users. Bus poverty leads to social exclusion. In Bath those parents who cannot afford the extortionate bus fares are not able to make the choice to send their kids to school that might be more suited to them. Ralph Allen school for example has a good array of after school clubs which enable parents to work longer and kids to benefit but there is only one bus a day to and from the school so only richer kids whose parents can drive are able to access these opportunities. These two examples have a societal impact and not only an individual one. The environmental impact of a poor bus service is obvious and makes any incentive systems such as the CAZ very hard to implement as there are often no alternatives to the car. It seems very short sighted that planning for public transport cannot be approached in a holistic way as part of the wider vision for the area. I would also assume that having this holistic approach would be a key role of WECA .
|Because of the y4 and y3
The y6 is not bloody good enough
|Because elderly people amd young people, who need public transport to move independently, are being let down!
My child is moving to secondary school and w ought end up driving hom because there isn't an affordable and reliable bus service
|Capping bus fares is a great initiative, but it needs to be extended to children catching the bus to and from school! Our children catching the faresaver bus to Ralph Allen are still paying at least £17 to get to and from school each week. Please extend the £1 bus fare to ALL school services. Better still, let kids travel free.
|We need a joined up efficient and practical public transport system to make sure we can tackle car journeys, and make our cities and town more accessible to everyone in our society.
|We need a bus service !
|I can’t believe the bus company can even think the removing buses from Yate through Winterbourne to Bristol. How on earth does that make sense for anyone living in Winterbourne?
|The provision of reliable public transport at an affordable cost, is basic stuff which this country needs to get on top of if we are to stand any chance of responding to the climate emergency. Other countries manage this so why don't we?
|We need a bus service that is reliable and much cheaper to get people out of their cars
|People before profit x
|As a pensioner living on the S.Glos/Bristol border, I am reliant on buses for all my daily needs from shopping, contact with friends and medical appointments both locally and in Bristol. Medical appointments are increasing with my age and keeping them is a nightmare (and sometimes a failure) without reliable and reasonably frequent services that go where needed. Bristol, S.Glos and its residents deserve better.
|The village of Winterbourne, S Glos will not have a bus service after October which will make it very difficult to get to work and day trips to Bristol and theatre trips. The whole idea of a clean air zone in Bristol is to prevent cars from travelling into Bristol. I don't know how affordable car parking will be to get to work given the cost of living crisis
|I feel imprisoned in Winterbourne as I am disabled and cannot physically walk more than 100 metre or cycle. The bus is my only means of getting out of the village
|We need a bus service fit for purpose.
|With the removal of the current buses I either face an hours journey into work or having to drive.
|The Metrobus was fantastic when it started. For the first time I could get to work quicker than cycling and more reliably and cheaply than on the train. But over the last few months it has been chaos - less frequent, more expensive and services disappearing or stopping halfway at random.
|I use busses regularly and am fed up with the unreliable service
|We need the buses to go to Bristol and Yate as essential for basic services and transport. We don’t all have cars, and many pensioners can’t drive due to medical conditions so the buses are our lifeline so please keep our buses. Save our buses, please.
|People’s livelihoods depend on this. Pensioners rely on this. Young people rely on this. So much for your “green” ambitions.
|We have seen our service in St Werburghs reduced year on year, and elsewhere in the city routes are either being cut or are unreliable. First are either incapable or unwilling to provide an adequate service and those who rely on public transport suffer greatly as a result. Time for change.
|I have a bus pass and advertising encourages me to use it so efficient effective bus services would be useful!
I strongly disagree with public services being profit focussed.
|I’m a single mum with no maintenance from my abusive ex. Currently having to pay £60 per month for Faresaver bus to get my daughter to school. Bus is jam-packed every morning with school children and other customers (I would guess most days going over the ‘safe’ number of standing passengers) yet Faresaver say it’s not viable to reduce fares on the routes that go to schools? Also Dan Norris’s recent announcement meant FirstBus flat fares were reduced but we’ve since discovered multi ticket purchases have gone up in price. So it seems like regular bus users are subsidising reductions for ad hoc passengers? A month of FirstBus tickets has now gone up to just over £40 - although this is still considerably cheaper than the Faresaver £60 month ticket for the X86/228. School-age children travel for free in London because of taxpayers money. Why should children in the capital travel for free when anyone outside of the capital is paying premium prices? I would love to see nationwide free travel for school-age children but failing that more affordable - and more reliable - bus services are now a necessity in this cost of living crisis. I also feel in terms of environmental and socio economic issues, it should be a no brainer to opt for public transport rather than driving children. We see a ridiculous number of 4WD vehicles passing (often with just one child in) while waiting at the bus stop as people find there’s a negligible difference in the fuel/bus fare cost and it’s far more convenient but not everyone has that option available to them.
|Keeping cars off the road & keeping places accessible by bus at a reasonable cost.
|More busses and more frequent services are essential for the environment and the benefit of the less privileged in the community.
|We all know that the most powerful, arguably only, thing we can do locally to transform lives and help our environment is change the way we travel.
We keep hearing about how local politicians can't do anything because the government have "tied our hands" and now we discover this is just not true.
Healthy, safe, and sustainable travel choices start with our local authorities and we need you to take responsibility so we all have better and fairer options.
We call on the leaders of our council to stop delaying and obstructing, and to immediaetly use the powers they have to franchise our bus network immediately.
|Cuts affect routes I use regularly, Bristol deserves a functioning public transport system, cuts disproportionately affect the elderly, those on low incomes, the less mobile, and non drivers. A reliable, regular bus service is vital to improving air quality and cutting carbon
|Bus services are essential for many in our community, including the most vulnerable people. We need to do better and protect these services!
|Family in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are badly affected by reduced bus services.
|We have to take this issue seriously, not only should we be striving to encourage bus use, we have to protect those who already rely on these bus services as a life line.
|Iam a carer of 2 people. Have missed appointment in past due to lack of parking places in RUH. P&R is a lifeline to get to Hosp with 1 bus it would cost x4 bus fares for each of us equalling £8 each trip. Total cost £24!
|For the children and elderly.
|Bus services are a vital service that need to be better run and better supported
|All children should be able to go to school by bus, specially now that it’s so important that we reduce the use of cars and the buses give us the opportunity to travel in a more environmentally friendly way. Also, there should be good bus services to and from hospitals.
|My child needs the bus service for school
|Fair fares and equal transport opportunities should be within the grasp of a functioning society
|I feel strongly that any journeys made by school children should be free. This won't happen in Bath, as we know, but the reduced-fare rate should apply to all bus routes. And the monthly bus pass should reflect these reductions as well. Why is it ok to penalise people who pay for a month's worth? Why do our children have to pay to get to school in this day and age?
|Although I appreciate this is a complex issue financially, I can’t understand why almost all bus routes in bath have been lowered to £1 single £2 return for kids, with the exception of school routes (x86 specifically). I can only imagine this is because of the private running of the service, and would hope this wasn’t the case if it was franchised/ council had more input.
|Two key reasons why this is important to me:
1. My daughter is reliant on a bus to get her to school in the morning. The new subsidised £1 child single tickets for Bath are not being passed on to children who use them for school, so their singles are £2.50 from the Bus Station to Ralph Allen (£3.00 from London Road). This has been made based on a commercial, profit based decision.
2. Traffic in Bath is at an all time high and it is accepted that takes a ridiculous length of time to get across the city. RELIABLE public transport is the obvious answer, but when you cannot guarantee that the bus will turn up on time or the route won't be cancelled, you can't rely on it. Therefore people revert to the control of their own car. (Even for the school route there is only one time in the morning and one time for end of school, despite significant numbers of children attending after school clubs there are no additional services from Ralph Allen School to London Road, so parents all go in their cars to pick up).
|It is important to me to have a reliable, affordable and safe bus service for my child to get to school. At present the service is unreliable, expensive and at times unsafe due to overcrowding.
|West of England Shared Transport and Active Travel
|Dan doesn't currently have the power to deliver a bus network that actually serves communities and addresses our climate obligations. Franchising is a necessary step to get there.
|The no6 terminating at the Grand Parade is causing me real problems since I have
|To quote Lisa Nandy during her Leadership Campaign: “I just want a functional bus network”
|Important to stop people using cars to help environment. In order for this to happen buses need to improve. Where I live buses are getting cut and it will no longer be possible to get a bus into Bristol.
|I have given up driving and recently received my bus pass. I was hoping to go into town more . Surely we need good public transport which would also be good for climate change.
|You need to ability to go to the centre of Bristol without using your car
|I’m 81years old, don’t have a car and will feel more isolated without access to a reasonable bus service as two have been removed from my area.
|No other means of transport.
|Clearly the withdrawal of services by First Bus depriving areas of any bus service at all or replacing services which are totally inadequate and which do not meet requirements needs some action.
|A community like Winterbourne deserves a decent bus service
|I have teenage children that do not drive and rely on the bus services. One of which is just starting out with work and the thought of them not actually being able to get there and back, or even be able to afford the fares, is of huge concern. I also have elderly parents that rely on the bus services for numerous appointments. They are not able to walk very far or stand for very long so absolutely need a local and reliable service. I agree that other counties and countries manage to provide reliable and affordable public transport systems, so why can't we?! Please think about how this really affects those in the outer Bristol areas.
|I live in a village which has lost a valuable bys service into and from Bristol
|My wife and I are both in our 80s and a reliable bus service is critical to us and the thousands of people of all ages who will be disadvantaged who live in the bs36 area.
|I live in Winterbourne and rely heavily on public transport
|Commuting to work in Bristol centre
|Taking the Y4 off means it is difficult for many people in Winterbourne to get to Yate or into Bristol. Although the Y6 is still running elderly people can't walk up to the High Street, so will not beable to get out and about for their shopping. It's has been really bad news for many people. A bus every 2 hours would be better than none.
|Increased reliable and affordable public transport takes cars off the road reducing congestion and pollution, lowering the carbon footprint
|I think it's disgusting cutting the buses through Winterbourne. I don't drive, and it was going to be a way to get my elderly mum out now and again by bus. Now, it would be impossible. Please think again. Thanks.
|I live in Winterbourne and now have a 25 minute walk to the nearest bus stop. Although I have a car I have taken the bus to work as I think this is environmentally friendly. This is now no longer an option which seems ridiculous considering where I live.
|Withdrawal of so many bus, services and poor services
|Our one and only bus service is being removed on October 9th leaving our village isolated
|This bus situation is ridiculous how are our young people meant to get around, the cost of living is rising parents are working!!
|Three of my local bus services cease on 8th October. Pensioners like me are badly affected by cuts made by private ‘profit before people’ bus companies. We need buses to be for everyone.
|I take these buses to school, without them I’m left with no way to attend.
|It's important for the reasons outlined in the open letter, reasons which I fervently agree with.
Services are being eroded, stripping people of their freedom and finances, and isolating the vulnerable.
|I live in a village outside Bristol City centre , and will be unable to get into the city, especially as They will be expecting us to stop using cars soon so they have there zero emmisions!
The bus service provided a viable alternative , people without cars young and old will be cut off from all that is stated in this letter
|The bus service needs improving and reinstated because it is an important route from the north of Bristol to the city centre used by commuters, students, shoppers, hospital attendees and many others.
|My family use it
|I am at the age where I have just received my bus pass. And need to be able to get out of Winterbourne. Without buses I and many are stranded. For years people have been asked to use public transport. But with no public transport to use what are we expected to do. The buses for many years have been unreliable.
|Surely it stands to reason . People need the bus . After coivd buses are starting to be used again as people go out and about more . And why should we walk to next village to get one ..
|It impact our life!
|My daughter needs to get to college and there is now not one bus that goes through our village to get her to college on time any day of the week.
|Love in Yate, regularly visit Westerleigh, Frampton Cottrell and Winterbourne and the bus service bis already inadequate and about to get even worse!
|We as a neighbourhood in Winterbourne require a reliable bus service and do not deserve to be isolated.
|My daughter has to get 3 buses to school they are often full or late which results in her being anxious and worried - not a good start to the day for a 13 year old!
|Bus services in Bristol have been horrendous for years and it's only got worse. The cost and reliability is absolutely atrocious
|Rely on public transport as don’t drive so work / pleasure / socialise
|Leaving the village and surrounding villages with no bus service
|The buses are very important to us and need a device from Winterbourne - it’s sad that we have to use the car more when we should be leaving the car at home. It’s also very bad that a city like Bristol has such a bad bus service
|My daughters can’t get to school
|Bus cuts in Winterbourne impacting me greatly
|Because there are no buses to get you in and out of Winterbourne, unless you live on the main road
|The faresaver bus from Larkhall to Ralph Allen school is unaffordable. And very upsetting that we have been missed of the reduction in ticket prices for no apparent reason.
|Bus service is depleted at a time when public transport is critical and congestion charges about to start in Bristol. My children take the bus to City Centre every day for school. Already many buses are full at these peak times.
|The WestonSM to Wells route has been truncated axed by First Buses - this needs to be reinstated in full to facilitate residents to travel both directions without interruption as has been for over 50years
|The lack of public transport has isolated people in their homes and taken away much of their freedom and choice
|My grandson attends the military preparation college in Whiteladies Road. He lives with us in Winterbourne and commutes by bus. Another friend’s daughter goes to the Caghedral School
|I live in Winterbourne and there is now no bus into Bristol. I don't drive, so if I need to go to the children's hospital with my daughter, go to work, meet friends or go to an event it is now extremely difficult and expensive. It is ridiculous there is no bus service from Winterbourne to Central Bristol.
|Thre are areas of our community completely isolated & without public transport to access the city of Bristol for work, studies & hospital appointments.
|We need at least 1 bus which goes through Winterbourne and goes straight into Bristol. Expecting people who cannot drive or have any physical disabilities to walk over 1 mile to a bus stop to be able to do this is ridiculous.
|Use bus not car to get to Bristol
|We no longer have access to a reliable bus to get into Bristol for hospital visits, social events etc, but at the same time being told not to take our cars into the City!!
At the moment, I am able to drive to do my shopping, but the time may come when I need to rely on the buses for this and other services. There are no local shops within easy walking distance to where I live - and I certainly don’t live in an isolated place!!
|Will soon be my only means of getting out and about.
|We need adequate bus service provision for work, leisure, shopping to allow the younger and older members of society in particular (and those medically and economically unable to drive) equal access to society activity which car drivers enjoy, let alone the environmental benefits with the severity of climate change. How else will households be encouraged to reduce car journeys and reduce congestion and pollution, the latter being recognised as significantly detrimental to health of some groups in particular
|Still able to drive at present but, at 84, I am concerned that when I can't there won't be any buses.
|Bus services reduced between town and Winterbourne
|People should be encouraged to use buses, bikes or feet rather than cars.
Not all of us are cyclists, and it’s a long way to walk into Bristol
|To enable public transport for everyone
|I use several hospital, surgeries and dental requirements and use different places. Busses are the best way to go to various requirements.
|The only sensible bus from Winterbourne is being axed. Elderly people students and workers need this service. We want to reduce carbon emissions mot force people into cars or v expensive taxis. It is £26 each way into Bristol beyond the means of most people. Buses should be cheap and frequent to encourage use not cancelled
|Buses are green. Without buses we can't be green.
|A reliable bus service is vital for pensioners like me who live out of town and are not able to drive.
|We have personal experience of the dramatic improvements when franchising was introduced in London
|Winterbourne and Frome Valley Environmental Group
|We need better bus transport if we are to stand a chance of getting people out of cars and meeting our climate action goals.
|My son can no longer get the bus to and back.
|I have children that need to get into Bristol on a regular basis! With no busses, it's impossible and we're cut off.
|To be able to reach the city centre. My family members don’t drive due to poor vision meaning this really limits where they can travel.
|Having a bus service for our rural communities is essential. We have a large elderly population and the buses are a lifeline for these people. They can no longer get to local shops and community groups without these services.
The local young people are also in need of this vital service. The local colleges and senior schools are not accessible without bus services and many wait for hours at bus stops because buses that do run are unreliable. This is neither safe nor acceptable as education should take a priority.
I fully support reducing parking and introducing a clean air zone in Bristol city centre to aid greener transport however if buses do not service my local area I am.forced to use my car wether I want to or not.
The y3 and y4 may not be used as much as a bus in an urban area but they are just as vital, if not more so, because the people that do use them have no other option. Without them, they face isolation and education will be inegatively impacted.
We need a reliable, affordable service to enable the most vulnerable people in our community to continue to access vital services. Plus we need to improve the green transport options to encourage a reduction in car use and lessen the impact on our planet.