Pressure to improve bus services is stepped up as 533 is axed

bus rowLen Fynn, from Cadbury Heath is in his 80s and relies on public transport to get out and about.  Until yesterday, when Wessex axed the 533 bus, the Parkwall Road resident was using the service up to four times a week.

Mr Fynn, pictured second from left with campaigners, said the 533 was also popular with other elderly and frail people, linking up communities between Keynsham and Mangotsfield, including Willsbridge, North Common, Barrs Court, Kingswood and Hillfields.

The route was supported with funding from South Gloucestershire Council, but with much of the route now covered by commercial services, the council is not permitted to provide financial support.

First Bus’s 17 service, which Mr Fynn also uses, runs from Keynsham to Southmead Hospital, via the bus stop in Longwell Green, pictured above, Kingswood, Staple Hill and Fishponds, but he says it’s unreliable – a view supported by contributors to The Week In Letters pages and by constituents who have been in touch with Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore with their concerns.

Complaints include that the bus is often very late, sometimes doesn’t run at all, and that drivers don’t always stick to the route.

Cllr Christine Price, who represents Longwell Green on South Gloucestershire Council, has also been contacted by concerned local people while Sam Bromiley and Paul Hughes, who are standing for election as councillors in May, say names are flooding in for a petition being delivered through every door in Oldland and North Common.

Mr Skidmore says he is concerned in particular about the elderly and vulnerable who rely on buses to do their weekly shop or access hospital services.

The MP is hoping to get representatives from the bus companies and the council to a meeting to present the petition and the case that local residents need a better service.