'Deep concern' as vital First Bus routes cut amid driver shortage

08-11-21 First Buses in Bristol-LDRS
A First Bus in Bristol Credit: LDRS

Crucial bus services are set to be cut in North Somerset leaving residents without vital transport links. 

North Somerset Council said despite "extensive negotiations" with bus company First West of England they would no longer be able to offer the X2 and the 126 service. 

The X2 runs from Yatton to Bristol while the 126 runs from Weston-super-Mare to Wells.  

The loss of the two routes from October will further decrease transport in areas with already severely limited bus links. 

Yatton will now only have one service running buses out of the village.

The changes will leave many villages with just one bus service left.

Villages such as Sandford, Banwell and Winscombe - currently served by the 126  - will also be left with just one bus service. 

North Somerset Council said the cuts were down to "the significant national shortage of drivers".

It said despite the losses it did manage to reach an agreement to continue a reduced X5 bus service - which had also been under threat - until April 2023. 

The X5 currently runs between Weston-super-Mare and Bristol, serving Clevedon and Portishead.

But from Monday 10 October 2022, the X5 will run every hour between Worle and Portishead High Street.

Passengers wishing to travel onward into Weston-super-Mare town centre will have to change buses at Worle and those hoping to get to Bristol will have to change at Portishead.

Councillor Steve Bridger, leader of North Somerset Council, said: “Buses play a vital role serving the communities of North Somerset.

“While I’m relieved that we’ve been able to come up with a solution for the X5 to continue until April, albeit on a reduced service, I’m deeply concerned that we haven’t been able to find solutions for the X2 and 126.

“Without further action from central government the situation is only going to get worse. Driver shortages are at the heart of this issue, and we need to work together to find a solution. 

"We’re in discussions with local training providers to devise campaigns to increase the number of bus drivers. I encourage anyone who is considering this as a career to step forward and contact their local college."