Saltford passenger slams ‘shocking’ bus service

A SALTFORD resident who uses the Air Decker bus to travel to Keynsham says passengers are being let down by the service.

Margaret Grindrod says she has had several bad experiences, with buses arriving late, not turning up at all, and on one occasion failing to stop to pick her up.

“It really is shocking. People are losing dental appointments, hospital appointments – it’s just not on,” she said.

She recently planned to catch the Air Decker to Keynsham to meet up with a friend for a coach trip, but the bus did not arrive.

Margaret lost the £25 she paid for the coach and her friend had to go on her own. When she rang Bath Bus Company, which runs the service, she was told the bus had broken down.

On another occasion, in February, her journey from Keynsham back to Saltford took 3.5 hours after the bus failed to turn up outside St John’s Church in the town.

Margaret relies on the hourly Air Decker, which travels between Bath and Bristol Airport, as it is the only service that regularly runs between Saltford and Keynsham. She makes the trip about twice a week.

The 39 and X39 service run by First Bus stops in Saltford but then uses the A4 bypass towards Bristol.

“I often wait 40 to 50 minutes. The service is not frequent enough. Why can’t they divert one 39 bus an hour from the bypass through Keynsham?”

Margaret says that when she complains to Bath Bus Company, they blame traffic for the Air Decker being late, but she says the 39 seem more punctual.

She catches the Air Decker from the Bath Road in Saltford near the junction with Norman Road. The bus stop’s seating faces way from the road, so one rainy day Margaret did not see the bus approaching, and it did not stop.

She said a young woman who also uses the bus told her she faced losing her job because of the service’s poor punctuality.

A spokesperson for Bath Bus Company, which is based in Burnett, said: “A new timetable was implemented on 7th April 2024, with an additional early-morning journey to the airport to assist Bristol Airport staff members, and revised timings on some journeys to account for an increase in traffic and boarding passengers.

“However, we recognise that there have been severe delays to the service in recent weeks. In addition to heavy traffic during peak times, these delays have been exasperated by roadworks and diversions along multiple sections of the route.

“As a result of customer feedback and concerns, we have undertaken a full review of our current timetable, which has highlighted that we need to extend running times and adjust mid-route timing points.

“These amendments are in the process of being finalised and sent to WECA (West of England Combined Authority) for implementation in September 2024 – the earliest we are able to action this, in line with the BSIP (Bus Service Improvement Plan) regulations.”