Bristol's night bus service to improve with new deal
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson has reversed a planned cut in funding for the city's night bus services.
Mr Ferguson had proposed cutting £40,000 of subsidies as he sought to make budget savings. But critics claimed the cuts would damage the city's night-time economy and could even increase crime if more drunk people were left in the city centre.
Now a new deal between the mayor and bus operator First will see spending on night buses rise, to £60,000.
The funds will help pay for night buses on six nights of the week instead of two – but the service will now stop by 3am instead of running all night.
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The increased spending has been sanctioned due to savings made by an energy-saving street lights scheme.
The buses will begin operating on March 24 on Services 40, 43, 44, 48, 54, 70, 75 and 90.
One of the routes – service 75 – will operate 24-hours-a-day, with buses running between Hengrove and Cribbs Causeway through the night, on an hourly basis in both directions.
The Post understands that the council's current night bus contracts with Wessex Connect will not continue.
First said the new six-day-a-week service would be used by shift workers as well as pub and club-goers.
The firm's regional commercial and business growth director, Marc Reddy, said: "At the end of last year we began operating late night journeys on Service 73 (city centre to Parkway station via Gloucester Road) on a commercial basis and these have proved popular.
"As a result of this, and knowing that the council was considering its night bus commitments, we put forward a proposal which suggested that we could run the journeys for them, if they were willing to help support them initially while they get off the ground. They have agreed and plans are now in place to roll this out from the end of March."
Mr Ferguson said: "A major city with a late-night culture as vibrant as Bristol's must have a night bus service. And it easily has the potential to run as a self-funding private business. It just needs to be bigger, bolder and braver.
"Better late night connections make the city a more attractive place for more late night activity which brings more users to the night buses."