First has welcome change of heart over Hillfields buses

September 02 2016

SWIFT action by councillors has won a temporary reprieve for a threatened bus service through Hillfields.

SWIFT action by councillors has won a temporary reprieve for a threatened bus service through Hillfields.

Bus operator First was planning to axe the 17A through Acacia Road and Hillfields Avenue but after listening to pleas from Anna Keen and Craig Cheney, the company's managing director James Freeman has agreed to keep hourly buses running on the route.

The service, which runs between Kingswood town centre and Southmead Hospital, will alternate with the 17 service.

The company has asked the Traffic Commissioner for a short-notice change to the new timetables coming in on September 4, which make a large number of alterations to services across the city.

It said in a statement: “We are happy to operate in this way on a provisional basis for the period until the service change date in January 2017. This will give all parties more time to consider the whole question of local bus services in this immediate area and what, if any, alternative ways can be found to solve best serving the travelling needs of local people. This would require a new registration to be submitted early in November so we look forward to working with local people and councillors over the coming four to six weeks to address the issue.

Mr Freeman added: "Whatever happens we need the 17 route as a whole to continue to expand its user base so that it has a sustainable long-term future. We have seen spectacular change to this route since it was established only a few years ago, in place of a subsidised service that was not well-used. We have worked hard to make it more reliable and recently-introduced smarter buses with distinctive burgundy-coloured fronts to aid recognition. We are committed to this route."

Councillor Keen won the change of heart after tackling Mr Freeman at a public meeting in South Gloucestershire.

She told Fishponds Voice: “It is good that First are listening. Older people and young families in Hillfields need this bus so they can get to both Southmead and Cossham hospitals.”

Changes are planned from this month to services including the 7, the 48, the 489A and the 49.

For full details of all the proposed changes, look on the First website.