Mixed feelings at heated First Bus cuts meeting

Portishead bus cut meeting

Around 170 residents voiced their concerns to First Bus and North Somerset Council for the recent changes to bus services in Portishead. - Credit: Bob Cartwright

Tempers flared as Portishead residents voiced their concerns over bus cuts across the town last night (February 9).

Around 170 people attended the meeting at Somerset Hall with Portishead Town Council acting as a mediator between its residents and panellists from North Somerset Council and First Bus.

A number of services have been axed or altered by the bus operator this year - most notably the town's X3, X3a, X4 and X5 services.

First Bus has been criticised for its altered Portishead service.

A lack of direct transport between areas of Portishead and Gordano School has been a pressing issue. - Credit: Archant

Several people in the crowd told First Bus managing director, Doug Claringbold that the latest X4 service is "putting children's lives at risk" as they are now made to cross a busy road to join the X5 route taking them to Gordano School.

Mr Claringbold said: "Phoenix Road had to be cut from the route as the parking issues made it impossible for our buses to pass through without being stuck.

"We asked for double yellow lines to be put down to help, and some were, but not enough to help us deliver a smooth journey through the marina each time."

He added: "Ahead of the financial year, in April, we are bracing for the worst - we have seen around 2 million fewer passengers and have 59 per cent of our revenue alongside 90 per cent of costs.

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"We have asked for help but they [the Government] have not listened to us - a lot of your issues are with Westminster."

Portishead West councillor, Robert Bull, hosted the conversation and made it clear that the town council did not appreciate the lack of time it was given to digest the news First Bus would be changing the routes.

Cllr Bull told the Times: “I think the poor consultation point was made [during the meeting]. 

But I do not think the public was convinced and they will keep the pressure on [First Bus].

"We have agreed on holding a follow-up meeting every two months to discuss some changes and improvements.”

A promise was made to hold follow-up meetings once every two months.

A promise was made to hold follow-up meetings once every two months. - Credit: Bob Cartwright

Other issues raised include poor time schedules for services leaving those who pop into an area either stranded for hours or rushing to make a return journey in 15 minutes.

Portishead resident, Sandra Buebird has been using the bus services in Portishead since she moved four years ago.

Mrs Buebird revealed she felt despondent after leaving the meeting.

She said: "It seemed First Bus were basing figures and lack of demand for services off the back of the last two years, during a pandemic.

"However, the door was not completely closed on the chance of reinstating a service from Clevedon or Portishead to Cribbs Causeway, which is positive news."

A petition with more than 1,300 signatures has been set up to reinstate a Cribbs Causeway service, to sign it visit www.change.org/p/north-somerset-council-reinstatement-of-the-portishead-to-cribbs-causeway-bus-service