Karin Smyth MP: Pushing for better bus services for Bristol South

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth and Metro Mayor Tim Bowles at Metrobus launch

Bristol South is home to some of the lowest rates of car ownership in Bristol. Families rely on reliable, affordable bus services to get to work, school and appointments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted public transport – with changes to timetables and service provision, with reduced capacity due to social distancing requirements – and a requirement to wear face coverings when using buses. I know this has led to issues for local people and I’m speaking to the relevant authorities and bus operators to try and help improve things.

Earlier this month, I wrote again to the regional Mayor Tim Bowles, who has responsibility for travel across the West of England Combined Authority area – which includes Bristol.

When Metrobus was launched in 2018, the Hengrove to Long Ashton leg which we’d been promised had disappeared from the route map. I raised this and got it reinstated, but, two years on, we’re yet to see Metrobuses operating on that South Bristol Link road.

With Metrobus announcing expansion into South Gloucestershire to help aid the region’s recovery, I was surprised to see no mention of this missing South Bristol link so pressed Mr Bowles on this.

This week, he responded to confirm that the progress of that route has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – with passenger numbers down by 50%. He assured me that now passenger numbers were rising, he was working with local bus operators, including Metrobus and the Airport Flyer to ensure services remain ‘as intact as possible’. And he pledged to progress discussions around how best to provide a new service on the South Bristol Link road once passenger numbers returned to pre-pandemic levels.

I will be monitoring this closely and holding the Metro Mayor to account on this. I’d be very interested to hear of your recent experience with buses in Bristol South, please email me at karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk – Many thanks.