First Bus South has confirmed that the closure of its Buses of Somerset subsidiary’s depot in Bridgwater from 3 September will go ahead as planned.
The operator says it remains fully committed to its future in Somerset and providing bus services for local people and the ‘difficult decision’ to close the depot will help reduce costs and reset the business to protect its wider Somerset bus network. The majority of services previously run from Bridgwater will operate from the firm’s other depots across the county with little to no effect on passengers, the firm said, and some key routes will also see peak time improvements as a result of the changes as well as improved reliability.
Managing Director Simon Goff said: “Following further consultations and discussion with local stakeholders and customers alike, we are making some operational changes to our business. We have taken the difficult decision to close our Bridgwater depot with immediate effect from this weekend.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but one that is a necessity in order to protect the future of Buses of Somerset and its bus network for the local area. I am aware that there has been some local resistance to the depot closure, but it is important that our decision is taken in the wider context of striving to secure the long-term future of services across Somerset. We are operating in extremely challenging circumstances, with rising costs, and while passenger numbers are increasing on some routes due to current fare promotion schemes, they are still below pre-covid levels, which is affecting the viability of routes.
“We are committed to serving our communities in Somerset and continue to work closely through the enhanced partnership with Somerset Council to deliver the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to provide the best possible bus services for our customers in the county. We will continue to work closely with the Council who have been a great help in supporting us to give the bus network the best possible chance to recover.
“We will continue to use data to inform our decision making to allow us to match services with demand. I hope that the passion shown recently by local interested parties around this decision can now translate into support for the local bus network through regular usage. As a responsible bus operator, we see our role is to provide a reliable network where people need us most. We believe that reliability, coupled with the current low fares, will help drive passenger growth which is required for the network to be sustainable for the long term.”