The 17 bus service is safe following successful campaigning efforts across the community, delighting Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore.
The current No 17 is operated by First as a through service between Southmead Hospital and Keynsham. Only the part of the route between Southmead and Kingswood is operated on a commercial basis, the extension to Keynsham is subsidised by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). The contract for this subsidised element is due to end on 28th August, so has recently been retendered.
When subsidised bus services transferred from South Gloucestershire Council to WECA, there was a guarantee that services would be protected and improved. Campaigning efforts were made to ensure the 17 was not a casualty of this retendering exercise.
WECA have confirmed today (14 July) that bus company First has been successful in winning the contract for the subsidised section of the route and the combined authority is now working closely with First on new timetables. All journeys from Southmead Hospital will run the full route, along with early morning journeys from Keynsham. Remaining journeys through the day from Keynsham will require a change in Kingswood where there will be a 10-minute connection time. Passengers will be able to use the First day ticket for both legs of the journey.
Welcoming the news, Chris Skidmore MP said:
"I'm delighted with this news from WECA as it has been a real cross-community campaign to protect our local bus services that are so important for so many local people. Local bus users can breathe a sigh of relief that they will continue to benefit from services to and from Southmead Hospital.
When subsidised bus services transferred from South Gloucestershire Council to WECA under the previous Mayor, there was a guarantee that services would be protected and improved and I am heartened to see WECA living up to these promises."
"Whilst this is a good first step, I will continue to press WECA to address the concerns of my constituents travelling from the Longwell Green direction who will still need to interchange at Kingswood for onward travel to Southmead for most journeys. If these residents can benefit from a continuous service coming back from Southmead, why do they need to change on their way there? I want to see the maximum possible comfort and ease of my constituents which is why we need a single service travelling along the full route length in both directions."