Difficulty getting your child to school on a Bath Bus?

Getting children to school in Bath costs families a great deal of money, time and stress. Bath & North East Somerset Council presently has little data on the numbers of children moving around the city on a school day, it believes that at least 30% of all traffic at rush hour is school traffic.

Since 1986, bus services outside of London have been deregulated. This means, it is a free market and anyone can operate a bus service. Bus companies are free to run whatever services they like, charge the fares they want and use the vehicles they choose.  There is no obligation for them to consider the benefits to the wider community and decisions are made for commercial reasons. Here in Bath, we see the result is an uncoordinated public transport service not fit for purpose.

The chaos on Bath buses directly affects families and schools across Bath. Getting children to school on time is becoming increasingly difficult, with severe overcrowding on buses and traffic congestion causing a stressful, exhausting journey to & from school for many young people.

Since September 2018, many Bath school buses have been discontinued, as costs became prohibitive, leaving parents with very poor public transport options for school journeys. The remaining school buses are severely overcrowded, late running and do not provide a service for the later end of the school day after extra-curricular activities. Many more school children are now travelling on public buses, including the University bus services, which are struggling to meet demand. Many children have to use several different buses from different bus companies on their journey to & from school because there is no joined up approach to timetabling & bus routes across the city.

There is a confusing array of child bus ticket options in Bath. The BathRider ticket allows travel across the different bus companies and costs £15.50 per week, per child. There are cheaper ticket options for some families depending on where they live and where their children go to school. For many families though, the cost of bus travel to school is a significant factor in their decision to drive to school.

Another reason many parents have given up on sending their children to school by bus is our over-crowded, unreliable bus services and lack of local bus routes to school. School children on their way to school can be left standing at the bus stop while a jam-packed bus with standing room only travels past unable to take on any more passengers.

This is a frequent issue on the London Road and causes great anxiety for children and parents about getting to school on time. School children can easily get stranded after school with no bus in sight if they attend extra- curricular activities at school. Families are increasingly left with little choice but to use the car for travel to and from school as it is cheaper and more reliable. Increased car use increases air pollution and increases traffic congestion.

Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Mayor of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) are making decisions on a new Bus Strategy right now, which will be open for public consultation at the beginning of 2019. Bus franchising is one scheme that could be introduced. This would give Bath a system similar to Transport for London where the local authority has powers to control timetabling, routes and fares for the benefit of the community. Bus franchising is a lengthy process but if it receives public support and is introduced then Bath could have a system similar to Transport for London where children who live in London travel free on all London buses.

If Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority supported public transport for school children, school children could have an annual bus pass allowing FREE BUS TRANSPORT anywhere in B&NES.

Encouraging children to use public transport & walking & cycling to school is a great way to help reduce traffic congestion, reduce pollution, increase independence, increase physical activity and starts a preference for using public transport & walking, rather than jumping in the car, which is likely to decrease car dependency into adulthood.

Safe cycle routes to schools: A cycle policy for B&NES is also up for public consultation. Despite Bath being a hilly city, there are many keen cyclists in Bath who are put off cycling to school by having to negotiate rush hour traffic.  If safe cycle routes to school stopped children having to share the road with cars and lorries, cycling to school would be a much safer option.

What can you do to help improve travel to school?

Tim Bowles, Mayor for WECA, is leading development of B&NES Bus Strategy to be up for public consultation in early 2019. His transport vision features in a Bath Chronicle report http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath is a keen cyclist and wants to encourage independent travel to school by supporting public transport, walking and new cycling routes.

Mark Shelford, B&NES Councillor, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment is a keen cyclist and is a keen cyclist and supporter of safe cycle routes to schools and subsidy of public transport.

Bus fares, bus frequency, bus routes and school transport are all up for discussion. Your comments will be welcomed to help with these decisions. You can send your ideas and comments to your local Councillors, the Metro Mayor and your MP.

#BathBreathes2021 is a public consultation for Clean Air in Bath.  Presently B&NES Council have been mandated by central Government to create a Clean Air Zone in Bath due to its high levels of air pollution.  In order to put this is place B&NES are consulting with the public on many aspects of transport and travel. To give your views go to #BathBreathes2021

PLEASE Write a letter. Your views matter and can help create a better Bath for us all.

Your own personalised letter with information about the problems you are having with travel to school will have more impact. Writing with details of any issues you and your child/ren have with high bus fares, late running, over-crowded school buses, infrequent service, no buses at the right times for after school clubs, bus route problems etc. will all help. Everyone in your family can send their own letters, including your child/ren, or you can all sign the same letter.  For help with your letter click here.

Send a copy of the same letter to all these people.

We are conducting a Survey to find out about young peoples journeys.  Please help us by filling in the Survey Monkey.

We would love to create a gallery of all those bus  queues and over-crowding.  Please take a picture and send them to Joanna Wright at jojowright@postmaster.co.uk

If you have any comments on buses or issues that have affected your child’s journey please let us know.

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