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Burnham and Highbridge bus users tell First Bus to urgently improve ‘unacceptable’ service

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The Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Bus Users Group has told First Bus they need to urgently improve their “unacceptably poor” service.

Local members of the bus network in Burnham and Highbridge voiced their concerns with the service during a meeting on 14th May.

It provided a chance to interact with operator First Bus Group as well as the Town Council, Somerset Council and Bridgwater & Taunton College.

A spokesperson told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The session heard views from a student bus user, who spoke of frequent issues with buses, resulting in their late attendance for college or being left stranded when trying to return home.”

“Of the key routes discussed, the 21/21A service from Taunton to Burnham-on-Sea and the 20 service from Weston-Super-Mare to Burnham-On-Sea were identified for improvements to service reliability.”

“Bus users detailed how the buses were unreliable and that communication from First Group was patchy.”

A student, who said he wanted to ensure young peoples’ voices were heard by the bus company, said how he and his friends were often late for college.

“Other bus users who spoke included parents of students who struggled going to work while feeling a lack of confidence in the bus service to turn up to take their children to college.”

A key issue raised was not being provided with information when a bus was running late, not stopping or not turning up altogether.

“It was commented that there was no bench at some stops, or covers for when it rained, while other complaints included the Bus App not being reliable and the company failing to provide updates on X, formerly Twitter.”

Cllr Millard said: “This is totally unacceptable, leaving young people isolated and abandoned.”

Cllr Richard Wilkins, Lead Member for Transport at Somerset Council, adds: “First Bus has a lot of problems and this needs to be sorted quickly.  Reliability is key; if buses aren’t reliable, people stop using them. That is unacceptable.”

Bus on Burnham-On-Sea seafront

In response, First Bus explained some of the challenges affecting the service, including workforce shortages.  More staff are being recruited and they are conducting weekly service reviews.

First Bus acknowledged that they are not quick enough in providing real time information when there are issues with buses.

First Group have shown a willingness to improve these services, in particular the 20 and 21/21A.

The Bus Group will be monitoring the services and looks forward to seeing First Bus delivering on their promises to improve services and communication to users.

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