Passengers up but services down

Passenger numbers on England's bus services regularly exceeded 80% for much of late March, a threshold last met in October 2021. Figures for London were slightly lower, while overall traffic is now at about 95% of pre-Covid levels on most weekdays, with congestion resurging in many locations.

Driver shortages continue in many parts of the country, and an increasing number of operators are starting to implement plans that see the worst-performing routes abandoned, with no likelihood that they will ever achieve commercial viability again.

First West of England has made a number of cutbacks that have resulted in unfavourable comments in local media. Thornbury to Bristol T2 and Yate to Bristol Y2 routes are withdrawn, while route Y4 will no longer serve Yate town centre, terminating at the park and ride site instead, which First says is “to ensure the service is financially viable and can be operated within available resources.”

Frequency cuts on a number of city routes in Bristol include changes in the Hengrove area to route 92 that have prompted the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to step in with a subsidised replacement, 516, to be operated for four months by HCT-owned Bristol Community Transport, pending a longer term solution.

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