Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Yvonne Deeney

Campaigners fight to save vital 'lifeline' bus route

CAMPAIGNERS are fighting to save a bus route that they describe as a 'lifeline'. First bus is axing 18 bus routes across the Bristol region from October 7, 2022, including the Number 5 bus that connects St Pauls, St Werburghs, Eastville, Stapleton and Downend.

Residents in St Werburghs and St Pauls have started a petition to save the Number 5 stating the service is a ‘lifeline’ connecting people to ‘essential services’ which are lacking in the local area.

Metro mayor Dan Norris who is responsible for transport in the West of England said that he is disappointed in the decision by First to cut services and is working with it on a recruitment drive. Mr Norris said the region is short of 100 drivers as a result of the government encouraging bus drivers to train as HGV drivers and some returning to Europe.

First Bus is introducing a new bus route, the Y47, which covers most of the number 5 bus route but local bus users and councillors are not convinced. The campaign group is concerned that a bus travelling all the way to Yate will be riddled with delays and fear the service could provide as little as one service per hour.

READ MORE: The 18 bus services set to be axed in the Bristol region

One local resident in St Werburghs who has been using the route for 30 years said that First Bus promised it would keep the Number 5 after the 25 was scrapped some years ago. Campaigners helped to overturn the recent decision to reduce the Number 5 service but due to the increasing unreliability of the buses they have become less busy.

Ann Devereaux is approaching 70 and relies on the Number 5 to do her shopping at Morrisons in Fishponds. She doesn’t drive and is concerned about elderly and disabled residents now that Bristol Community Transport’s Dial-a-Ride service and minibus has been scrapped.


Ms Devereaux said: “Some years back the 25 and the 5 were often very busy. With the 25 you could go right across the city and you could do shopping without having to walk or change buses. It was really helpful to myself and a lot of people who don’t drive.

“Then they cancelled the number 25, much to the dismay of people in the local area. Following our protest we were assured by the First Bus company that the 5 would serve us well, that it would keep it going.

“We were promised a good, reliable service. It wasn’t possible to keep it going on time because of the traffic around the Eastgate Centre, so it said they would reduce it so we would at least have them running on time.

“The amount of people using the bus has reduced because people were just going to the stop and it wouldn’t turn up. They would be stressed out and depressed, feeling isolated and now they're going to get rid of that service.

“People are really down about it and frustrated. I know people who have had to stop driving because of ill health, one older resident told me, ‘I had to give up my car and now I’m left with nothing’.

“He has to go to Tesco to do his shop, so what happens to him? There are others I know who do their shopping in Fishponds and they don’t know what they are going to do because they have no one to rely on.

“If people knew it would be a reliable service they would use it. Otherwise people have to rely on local shops which are more expensive and they haven’t got the variety. Like myself, I have no-one to rely on to help me. I’m able to walk but you don’t know what is around the corner. I’m 70 next year, so it’s really depressing.

“We don’t have a service that can get us to any creative activities in town, where the theatres are, where the cinemas are. If you can’t walk or afford a taxi you’re completely cut off.”


Local councillors Amirah Cole and Tim Wye in Ashley ward told Bristol Live that due pressure from the local community a decision to reduce the Number 5 was overturned. They are both supporting residents to get a bus service for St Pauls and St Werburghs that is frequent and reliable.

Cllr Cole said: “It will be really disappointing because it’s just going to mean so much more isolation for the residents. The 5 goes through St Pauls and it’s one that a lot of elderly people use to go to the Malcolm X Centre, to go to the elderly clubs.

“It’s used by the young people going to school. It will make such a difference to the quality of life people have. I’ve seen over the years that service go down so people probably drive a lot more. If there was a reliable bus service I’m sure it would pick up. If something is going to be put in its place it really does need to be reliable. It’s a really important service."

Cllr Wye said: “Buses are being cut across Bristol marginalising a whole swathe of people. People have said we are ‘lucky’ to still have a bus. The problem is that the Y47 replacement is going to bypass some areas and will be a longer route making it more susceptible to delays. It will be infrequent and unreliable and we’re not even sure about evenings and weekends.

“It won't be much use to people and I fear in six months’ time it will be a case of ‘look, nobody uses it, we need to cut it’ We desperately need an affordable, reliable alternative to support people who are less mobile and are unable to drive and to make the shift away from the car.

Metro mayor Dan Norris believes that the axing of the 5 will particularly affect those in Stapleton village who will not have access to the new Y47 service. He said: "Like many residents I’m disappointed that buses are set to be cut.

West of England metro mayor Dan Norris on a bus with a driver (West of England Combined Authority)

“Unfortunately, First Bus took the decision to stop running a number of routes, including the 5. I fully understand that local people are feeling frustrated and disheartened right now.

“I’m pleased that a lot of the old 5 route will be served by the 47 service, meaning residents in Fishponds, St Werburgh and other areas will continue to be served by a bus, but I do appreciate the challenges for Stapleton residents.

"This isn’t down to money. Even where financial support has been made available by the West of England Combined Authority, operators say because they don’t have enough drivers, they simply cannot run the services regardless of whether more money is available or not.

“The huge problem is a lack of drivers. It’s why we’re seeing bus operators up-and-down the country, including here in Bristol, cutting back on the services they provide. During the pandemic, many bus drivers left the profession, some returning to Europe and some becoming HGV lorry drivers. Unfortunately, the Government wrote to bus drivers suggesting that they become HGV lorry drivers, which has exacerbated the problem.

“Given the severe bus driver shortage - we are over 100 short - I am working with bus companies on driver recruitment and training. But as you will appreciate, this is not a short-term fix. While this is a difficult time for so many Bristolians.

“I urge everyone to use the buses that are running because every journey local people take is really important in creating a virtuous circle of more fair income and so better buses for all. It’s also vital so we can meet our highly ambitious local 2030 net-zero target”

First has been approached for comment.


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.