IMPROVEMENTS to bus services between Yate and the new Southmead Hospital are being cautiously welcomed by campaigners.

First Bus has announced a number of revisions to help patients and visitors get to the new £430million hospital when it opens in May including a direct hourly bus from Yate to Southmead as well as more frequent services between Bristol and Yate, improved links between Kingswood, Bristol Parkway Station and Yate and new links between Bristol, Pucklechurch and Westerleigh on Sundays and public holidays.

A new 82 service will operate between Southmead Hospital and Yate via Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne hourly from Monday to Saturday daytime and every two hours on Sundays.

The 327, 342/X42 and 689 services from Yate will be replaced with the 46/X46, 47/X47 and 49 services, with up to five buses a hour Monday to Saturday, with effect from April 13. A new service, the 81 from Kingswood to Yate via Parkway will run half-hourly Monday to Saturday extending to Yate ever other journey.

Commercial manager for First West of England, Simon Ford, said: “We’ve been working on these changes for some time, and have consulted with South Gloucestershire Council to develop the new network for Yate.

“The new timetables for the affected services will be available on our website by mid-March and available to pick up from First Travel Shops by the beginning of April. A new map detailing the new Yate network will be added to the website in the coming days. ”

The announcement follows months of campaigning for a direct bus from Yate to the new hospital.

Cllr Brian Allinson (Con, Stoke Gifford), chairman of South Gloucestershire Council’s planning, transportation strategic environment committee, said: “Under new changes proposed by First, some services that were previously financially supported by the council will now be run on a commercial basis with some agreed route amendments and renumbering.

“Reliable and affordable bus services are the backbone of a good public transport system and we will continue, as a committee, to work with bus companies to improve the network.”

Cllr Pat Hockey (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell) highlighted how passengers from Chipping Sodbury would still need to change at Bristol Parkway station.

She said: “The service First have registered is a mixed bag - we’re pleased that local residents will be able to get to Southmead all days of the week, but we always wanted it to go as far as Sodbury.

“Patients or visitors from Sodbury will have to change in Yate, and sometimes then change again at Parkway - or go all around the houses. That is not good enough.

“This is a step in the right direction, but our campaign for good bus links between the Yate-Sodbury area and Southmead will go on.”

Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb, a leading campaigner on the issue, said: “I was disappointed to learn that Sodbury constituents have been left out. The new service meets a lot of what we've been campaigning for, but it's sadly short.”