North Somerset Coaches may save local bus service

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Nailsea-based North Somerset Coaches is looking into whether it can save a bus service in Clevedon which is due to cease on April 1.

Basic research has been carried out by the operator, including route and timed tests, but owner David Fricker admits they are in very early stages.

Speaking to CBW, he said: “We might not be able to run the service but we’ll have a look at it.

“We’re hoping the council and some local businesses will come up with some money, but the route needs simplifying. Currently the service operates between 0800 and 1600hrs and these hours may have to be cut to between 0900 and 1400hrs.

“The town service hasn’t changed in years so it’s been allowed to die.”

Blue Iris currently runs the 800 service, which has had its funding withdrawn by North Somerset Council. It runs from Monday to Friday, picks up all around Clevedon and takes people into the town centre, to Tesco and up to Hill Road and the surrounding area. The service is used by dozens of pensioners each day, many of whom do not drive or find it too far to walk to town.

A petition has now been launched objecting to the service being cut.

A recently retired driver who worked on the route for Blue Iris has been approached by North Somerset Coaches.

David said: “We have spoken to her and she’s willing to come out of retirement and drive the route for us.”

The operator hopes for a meeting with the council to take place as soon as possible, and spoke of the importance of continuing the service with no interruption. “If there is a gap that would be the end of it,” added David.

Subsidies for bus services in North Somerset are to be cut by nearly half. The authority proposes cutting its bus revenue support budget from £896,000 to £550,000 in the next financial year, which will see a number of bus services scrapped completely.