First lays on free evening shuttle bus to Keynsham’s Park Estate

James Freeman

James Freeman

Bus company First is to introduce a free evening shuttle service from Keynsham Church around the Park Estate.

It follows the outcry against cuts to its 38 Bristol-Bath service. From this Sunday (4th) the 38 will stop going to the Park Estate in the evening and on Sundays and the service is also being reduced from Monday to Friday daytime to once an hour instead of every half hour.

A petition was set up against the changes and has been signed by more than 900 people. It highlighted the fact that people whose work shifts finish in the evenings would face a long, dark walk home from Keynsham High Street to the top estates, where hundreds of new houses are being built.

The new route, announced by First tonight, will be called the 38A.  A First spokesperson said: “First has decided to introduce an evening shuttle service from Keynsham Church around Park Estate. This will run every half an hour connecting with the regular half-hourly buses from (as well as to) both Bristol and Bath on Service 39 between 2000 and 2300 on Mondays to Saturdays.

“Initially, until it can be duly registered, this will be provided as a free service. It will run for an initial period of three months, and its future past December will be dependent on the use made of it.”

As we have previously reported, in response to cuts to the 38, Bath Bus Company, which operates the A4 Air Decker, will be running two evening services – departing from Bath at 7.30pm and 8.30pm Monday to Saturday – to serve the Park Estate.

First says it has been working closely with local authorities to ease some of the impact of planned service changes, which are due to start on Sunday.

The company said the controversial changes were aimed at improving punctuality and reliability of services and to better match First’s resources to the level of demand for travel in cases where low passenger numbers made some services unsustainable.

Tonight James Freeman, managing director of First West of England, said: “We are pleased that in partnership with the councils we have been to find a number of ways to support the communities in those areas. We would like to thank the councils for playing a constructive role.

“After we notified the authorities of the changes to our network, we attended several public meetings in August. Since then we’ve been working with the local authorities to take another look at the planned changes and the issues raised, and I am pleased we are now able to help those communities.”

We reported earlier this week on other amendments that First has introduced at short notice, subject to the Traffic Commissioner’s approval.