A NEW petition has launched demanding buses in the Bristol area be brought back under public control.
The petition has been signed by more than 1,800 people in its first two weeks and organisers hope it will provide evidence of the “huge public support” for bus franchising.
Reclaim Our Buses is urging Dan Norris, the West of England Metro Mayor, to formally begin a legal process exploring how franchising could work in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset.
Mr Norris has said the option was “on the table” but is “not a magic bullet”, and the bigger issue is a shortage of bus drivers which WECA has been trying to address by helping to train new ones.
The petition can be found on the Megaphone website at tinyurl.com/3bpanw75.
It was launched as three bus services used by children attending Winterbourne Academy were saved for the coming academic year, after South Gloucestershire Council struck a deal with operator Stagecoach.
Families living in Hambrook, Frenchay, Downend and Fishponds were among those sent letters in June by head teacher Jenny Cartwright, warning that the future of services was in doubt from September because of funding issues.
The affected services included the 427 from Frenchay via Hambrook, the 458 from Fishponds via Downend, the 459 from Emersons Green and Lyde Green via Blackhorse and Bromley Heath, and the 936 from Patchway, Bradley Stoke and Little Stoke.
Four of the services are run by Stagecoach, with the other run by Transpora.
Now the council has said the 427, 459 and 460 will run for another year after it “stepped-in and found a solution to keep them running”, using funds paid by developers as part of planning deals.
The authority said it would “work with partners to look at options” for securing the 458 and 936, but did not “have a timeline” for making a firm announcement on their future.
Council cabinet member for infrastructure Chris Willmore said: “The scrapping of these services would have resulted in significant disruption for the many children who use them to get to school safely throughout the year.
“I am pleased that we were able to find a solution to fund them as it is vitally important that that children can continue to get to school.
“We are also looking at solutions with other services under pressure, so it is important that we work together to try and keep the wheels turning on bus routes that provide a transport lifeline in our communities.”