Lack of cross-South Bristol bus service 'affects jobs and isolates people'

The main focus of a lot of people's lives are the state of the bus services in Withywood. There is now only one bus service, the 75, which is increasingly infrequent
In Withywood there is now only one bus service, the 75, which passengers say is increasingly infrequent -Credit:Bristol Live

A new campaign has been launched to create a bus route that goes across South Bristol rather than just into the city centre - with campaigners saying the lack of a cross-city bus route south of the river is impacting jobs, leisure and the communities living there. Metro Mayor Dan Norris has agreed to meet with campaigners, who are led by Hartcliffe and Withywood local councillor Kerry Bailes, after the final bus service was cut.

All the bus services in South Bristol go from various suburbs and estates into the city centre and back, with no services going east-west across South Bristol connecting the different communities. And according to Cllr Bailes, that means people living in her area in Hartcliffe and Withywood are cut off from south east and east Bristol.

She and a group of residents in BS13 have started a petition to lobby Mr Norris and First Bus to consider the need for a new bus service, which would run across South Bristol from Hartcliffe and Withywood, through Hengrove, Knowle and Brislington. “There are currently no buses taking passengers from our community to Knowle or Brislington,” she said.

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“This has caused a lot of inconvenience for the residents, especially when it comes to important daily activities such as going to work, visiting family and friends, and even doing our weekly shopping. For instance, to get to Jubilee Pool in Knowle, we have to take a bus to central Bristol and then another one to Knowle.

"This is not only time-consuming but also costly, especially for those who rely on public transport. The same goes for those who work or want to shop at the Brislington retail park. We have to take a bus to central Bristol and then another one to the retail park.

“This is not feasible for those who work there or for families who want to do their shopping with their children. Moreover, for care workers, it is nearly impossible to get to their place of work by bus,” she added.

There was a bus service - the number 36 - that ran across South Bristol, but it was axed several years ago. “Previous campaigns to save the former 36 bus were met with disappointment and frustration as the route continued to be cut and eventually cut all together. The loss of this bus route has had a significant impact on the community, especially for those who rely on public transportation for work, and daily errands.

“Many residents have had to find alternative and often more expensive forms of transport, causing financial strain and inconvenience. The lack of a direct bus route has also led to a sense of isolation for the residents of Hartcliffe and Withywood, as they are cut off from East Bristol. This not only affects individuals, but also local businesses and services, as passengers are unable to reach them easily. The reinstatement of the former 36 bus would benefit residents, creating a stronger sense of community,” she added.

Bristol Live is calling for Better Buses for Bristol
Bristol Live is calling for Better Buses for Bristol

First Bus said the 36 was dropped because it was not commercially viable. Cllr Bailes said Mr Norris has agreed to meet with her and other campaigners on the issue. He leads the West of England Combined Authority, which has oversight of transport in the region.

There was hope elsewhere in South Bristol this week with the return of a previously axed bus service, the number 24 in Ashton Vale. First Bus changed the route five years ago as its double-deckers were too tall to get beneath a railway bridge on the way, but campaigners have now secured the return of the bus to their estate.

Last year BristolLive also launched a campaign, Better Buses for Bristol, calling for the metro mayor to consider a franchised system to help solve the city's public transport issues. In March he said a report into that possibility would be published "very soon".