Protest against sudden axe for 51 bus
Published on: 02 Aug 2016
A PETITION has been launched against the sudden decision by First Group to cut the 51 bus route from September 4.
First says the route is not profitable – but campaigners disagree, and say the move will have a devastating effect on people who depend on the 51.
Both the 50 and 51 routes link Hengrove and the South Bristol hospital to the city centre.
But only the 51 visits certain parts of Hengrove, Whitchurch and Knowle around Salcombe Road – and only the 51 takes people from these areas to the shopping centre at Broad Walk.
"An awful lot of people need the 51 to get to their doctor, their dentist and the shops in Knowle," said Gary Hopkins, Knowle councillor and Lib Dem leader on the council. He has launched a petition to save the service in conjunction with the other Lid Dem councillors in Knowle and Hengrove.
Councillors have already had many emails and phone calls from South Bristolians.
The petition reads:
"We are campaigning to save the 51 Bus service in Bristol from being withdrawn on the 4th September. First Bus announced on July 30th that they would be withdrawing the 51 bus service that currently runs from the South Bristol Hospital through Whitchurch, Hengrove and Knowle into the city centre.
"Many areas will be left with no bus service while others will have fewer options and will find their access to Broadwalk cut.
"Services on the Wells Road during peak times are already crowded. This decision will mean many commuters will now not be able to get on local buses."
Cllr Hopkins says he is "pretty certain" the 51 route is not loss making and accused First of choosing to move scarce buses and drivers onto its recently-won contracts to run the city's Park & Ride services.
There will be more on this story in the September issue of South Bristol Voice.
Cllr Mark Bradshaw, Cabinet Member for Transport at Bristol City Council, said:“I’m disappointed at the withdrawal of any commercial bus services, including the 51 route as this inevitably means some parts of the city are not served as well by public transport. In this case I am concerned about the impact on services connecting Broadwalk. We are in discussion with the operator about the reasons for the decision.“Separately, in a few weeks we will be launching a consultation on the council’s own supported bus services to gather people’s views on our services and how they are operating. This will inform decisions on how bus services might change next year.”
First Bus said the changes will help make the 50 service more punctual and reliable. The 50 will run every 15 minutes at peak times, and every 20 minutes during the off-peak. "In considering the changes First Bristol did meet with local councillors, and officers, to discuss the concerns and issues with the current service. Where possible their feedback has been taken on board," the company said.
The new 50 will operate along a revised route. From Hengrove Park (serving the South Bristol Skills Academy and the Community Hospital) buses will run via Whitchurch Lane, Court Farm Road, Tanorth Road, Stoneberry Road, then Ridgeway Lane, Wharnecliffe Gardens, Oatlands Avenue (outside Asda, Whitchurch), Bamfield Road, Throgmorton Road, Salcombe Road, Redcatch Road, St John’s Lane, Temple Meads, Bath Road and into the City Centre, terminating on The Horsefair. It is no longer possible to run on to Broad Quay as the level of congestion around the Centre undermines the punctuality and reliability of the buses.
First admitted that the link to and from the Broadwalk Shopping Centre has been lost, but it is possible to travel to the shopping centre by changing from Service 50 onto Service 36 at Broad Walk Square.