Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb pledges continued support for a direct bus to new Southmead Hospital
CAMPAIGNERS for a dedicated bus service from Yate to the new Southmead Hospital have said they will not rest until more help is provided for patients and staff to get to appointments and work.
A petition, organised by Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb and signed by thousands of residents, patients, councillors and doctors, was handed to South Gloucestershire Council last month in a desperate bid to secure improvements to public transport before the new hospital opens in May 2014.
People currently face at least a two-hour return journey involving four buses to get from Yate to Southmead, with residents of outlying villages facing an even longer trip. The authority said its hands were tied because it had not been given a share of £1.5million NHS funding handed to Bristol City Council for better transport links to Southmead.
Meeting last month, South Gloucestershire’s planning, transportation and environment committee said it was disappointed not to be able to help more.
Cllr Pat Hockey (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell) said: “This problem was not of our making at all but we are stuck with it and have got to make the best of it."
The council is, however, considering two of four options to help ease the travel time for passengers.
Committee members agreed their strongest chance of a commercially viable service would be to increase the existing Wessex Connect 581 from Yate to Hanham via Parkway Station where passengers can get a connecting bus to Southmead, to a half-hourly service and ensuring a maximum waiting time for a connecting bus of 10 minutes.
They are also investigating providing an additional service direct from Yate to Southmead during visitor hours only, which would be provided by a community transport scheme but would require council funding.
Mr Webb said he welcomed the council’s commitment to try and secure a direct service for visitors.
“But this will still leave most outpatients and staff having to change buses,” he said. “We therefore need to keep up the pressure to make sure that the council delivers on its plans for a direct service for visitors but does more to help all others who will use the hospital to get there more easily.
“We also need to ensure that the NHS keeps its promise to provide more treatment locally, so that fewer people have to travel to Southmead in the first place”.
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