By Community reporter Caroline Stevenson and Sue Mackinnon
Angry Knowle West residents are up in arms about proposed cuts to the 36 bus route – meaning they will now have to get two buses to Hartcliffe and Withywood.
From Sunday 29 March, bus users will only be able to take the 36 as far as Hengrove Park and will then have to get the 75 to Withywood. They will also no longer be able to travel to Tesco, Brislington, on this service.
A petition on change.org protesting against the cuts has collected over 400 signatures so far.
Pensioner Lyn Caple (66) fought to try and keep the 89 bus in the area six years ago and is furious yet another route is being axed.
She said: “It will mean you could be at Jarman’s for ages waiting for the 36 and then having to wait for another bus. When it’s pouring with rain and freezing, it’s not funny.
“You wouldn’t be able to get to Tesco as there is not a straight though bus. Whatever they do here, nothing is improving the area and making it easier for people…”
MP for Bristol South, Dawn Primarolo said she was ‘very concerned’ about First Bus’s plans to cut the route.
She said: “Residents in the Hartcliffe and Withywood area will no longer have a direct service through to Knowle and Brislington or vice versa.
“This will make travelling more difficult for some local residents and I’m worried about the impact on passengers. I have raised this issue with the bus company.”
First spokesperson Karen Duffett said she accepted it was “frustrating” for people they no longer had a direct route to where they wanted to go – but the company had to address problems with the “punctuality and reliability” of the 36.
In a survey last year by Bristol Bus Users, it had been named the worst service in the city – so they had taken steps to “resolve the problems”.
She said: “The 75 is a very frequent service, around every 20 minutes, and at the point where you have to change there is shelter. We are providing through tickets between Services 36 and 75 so no-one will be financially worse off from having to change buses.
“We can no longer go into Tesco car park because it causes too many problems – buses get caught up in the congestion. There are two other bus services that go to Tesco, a Wessex bus and an Abus; there’s also a free bus that Tesco provides…”
Ms Duffett said Bristol City Council had been approached about putting a bus stop outside Tesco carpark – but “had been unable to do it.”
Bristol City Council’s Director of Transport, Peter Mann said they were confident First’s changes would help improve bus services, which passengers had “been demanding for a long time.”
“…We acknowledge that rerouting away from Tesco, Brislington, will not be welcomed and we did explore with First the possibility of retaining this connection by introducing an alternative stop on Callington Road.
“However, our investigations have found it is not possible to provide a practical alternative bus stop for the superstore and we have had to accept the change as now proposed. We will continue to work closely with First to secure improvements to bus services for all local communities across the city.”