BSIP Press: A Response

North Somerset Council have today released this press release regarding their Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to create an Enhanced Partnership (EP) scheme they are enacting with the West of England Combined Authority.

In response:
Citistar have been forced to stop running bus services because our services were excluded from the scheme. This exclusion would give local government officers (at WECA and North Somerset) the choice to pick and choose which parts of the scheme we were included in. There was a possibility that we would have been excluded from any publicity (such as roadside displays and maps), statutory ticket schemes or even using bus stops or facilities upgraded with EP funding.

If we had wanted our services to remain fully integrated as part of the network, we would have been forced to upgrade vehicles to Euro VI or zero emissions with no financial support whatsoever. The capital cost alone of doing this spread over five years would have increased our standing costs around sixfold.

As a result, several villages in North Somerset lost their only links to local towns and in some cases their only usable bus services. These services were not empty, most journeys were carrying two thirds of the capacity of the bus or more. Council staff and elected members are fine with the loss of these routes because the services weren’t being operated by a major operator. Staff at the ITU decided that they didn’t need to bother with impact assessments on how these withdrawals would affect the most vulnerable members of their electorate because they’ve already decided they weren’t going to bother replacing them.

Senior council staff have also told us that they are only interested in supporting services which stand a chance of becoming fully commercial within three years, which presumably means that services such as the 53, 54, 55, 57 and 59 will all be running on a fully commercial basis without any subsidy in a few years.

Despite independent local businesses telling North Somerset Council that we don’t have the infrastructure to run buses 24/7, they persist in telling us that they need more operators on board to provide services, but that only those willing to run buses 18 hours a day, at least six days a week are of interest.

North Somerset Council: Proud to put local businesses off the transport network.

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