Sep 2021 - Services to Ralph Allen School - Q&A

Q. Why are the buses getting into school late?
A. We are experiencing delays on most services going into Bath at the moment due to the closure of Cleveland Bridge. This was due to reopen at the end of September but has now been put back and may not open fully until November. In addition the 228 bus is experiencing further traffic delays between Bear Flat and the School. Where 20 minutes was adequate prior to COVID we are now finding it can take up to 35 minutes on the worst affected days.

Q. Can you not amend the timetable to reflect these delays?
A. It is not straightforward to alter timetables. Under normal circumstances we have to provide DVSA with 70 days notice to amend a timetable. It is also difficult to amend timetables due to road works and diversions as these can often over-run as we are now experiencing with Cleveland Bridge.

Q. What is being done to improve punctuality times arriving at the school?
A. We are in contact with the school and WECA on an almost daily basis regarding the delays and trying to work out what can be done to improve the situation moving forward. Where delays are due to excess traffic there is no easy solution other than amending the timetable to reflect the current circumstances. However, with Cleveland Bridge currently closed it is difficult to predict how much of an impact this is having not only along London Road but also moving traffic away from this area around the outskirts. We therefore hope that conditions will improve once the bridge has opened and amendments made when we have a clear understanding of ‘normal’ traffic conditions.

Q. There is not enough space on the x86 for children boarding on London Road.
A. We have experienced an increase in usage on buses along the London Road this year. Whilst the x86 is now full at Lambridge the 228 has been able to carry these extra numbers. We understand that this situation is not ideal as this bus takes a longer route to the school and is experiencing delays on getting to the school and we are working with WECA to try and find a solution to this problem.

Q. Can you not put an extra bus on the x86?
A. Unfortunately, in the same way in which the HGV industry has a shortage of qualified staff, the bus sector is also experiencing staff shortages. Most large operators are struggling to fulfil their registered service obligations and although we do not have shortages to the same extent, we do not have sufficient staff in order to provide a duplicate bus with confidence from one day to the next. We believe that running a duplicate bus on an ad-hoc basis would only serve to confuse passengers further as they may be expecting a duplicate to turn up and then be left stranded when it doesn’t.

Q. Is there any danger that the service will not operate due to staff shortages?
A. No. Home to School transport takes priority over other services and thankfully we have not had to cancel any peak hour services so far.

Q. Why are the fares so ‘high’?
A. Fares are set at a level which makes the service financially viable. If the service was not financially viable then we would have no alternative but to cancel it. We do not receive any support from the school or councils to provide the X86 or 287 services and so the fares we collect on-bus need to ensure that we cover our costs. Most passengers either buy the BathRider week ticket at £16.50 or our monthly mobile ticket at £55.