Wiltshire Publications

Councillors call for more frequent town bus service

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WESTBURY town councillors have called for a half-hourly bus service around the town, along with more bus stops in Station Road.  

An e-bus.

The council was asked by Wiltshire Council to put forward any changes they would like to see in a new bus timetable, so that the Westbury bus service and the Westbury to Frome service can reflect what passengers want moving forward. 

Speaking at a meeting of the highways planning and development committee of the town council last month, cllr Mike Sutton suggested that a more frequent bus service would see considerably more use in the town.  

He said, “If you have a two-hourly service, the public are not very likely to use it as your day becomes confined by your transport. If you have a ten-minute service on the other hand, half the town will make use of it as wherever you go, you know there will be a bus back. 

“We need the powers that be to recognise that the only way to get public transport working is to make it so frequent that it becomes easier to get the bus than to drive a short distance. Other countries do it far better than us, they often have buses waiting outside train stations to go to all the little villages – we have a lot to learn. 

“Our comment as a town council should be that a half-hourly service will get more use and all buses should go to the train station.” 

The committee felt that the town would benefit from more frequent stops at Station Road, and that all buses should stop at the railway station, as well as the introduction of a 30-minute service. The information was passed on to Wiltshire Council. 

E-bus proposal

The town council is also currently investigating the costs for an electric bus service that could potentially link the following areas: the industrial estates, Westbury railway station, doctors’ surgery/health centre, Westbury Leigh, Leighton sports centre, the high street, schools and also Frome railway station. 

As part of these cost investigations, the town council will also undertake a survey to gain insight into the public’s demand for an improved bus service, as well as looking at identifying up to three potential small bus depots, preferably on brownfield sites, where charging stations can be installed. The town council say they will also investigate the impact the potential electric bus could have on existing commercial bus services.

Background on bus funding

Wiltshire Council missed out on Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funding from the government in April earlier this year which came as a disappointment to Wiltshire Council’s bus service partner organisation, Option 24/7. Wiltshire Council has now overhauled its strategy ahead of the next round of funding and presented Westbury Town Council with two options. 

The first option would mean the company behind the electric bus proposals, Big Lemon, would partner with a local bus operator and run it on their behalf- this was the model that was being pursued in Frome that White Horse News reported back in November of last year.  

The second option, and the one that is currently being provisionally investigated by Westbury Town Council, would be for Big Lemon to partner with Westbury’s council and community and run the electric bus directly themselves. 

Wiltshire Council’s intention is to have a comprehensive review of Westbury’s bus network by the time the current bus contracts end in March 2024. The town council is currently investigating costs and options for the E-bus and they will engage with Bradford-on-Avon town council to gain an insight into their own proposals for electric buses in the town and how they will fund them as guidance.  

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