First Bus and North Somerset Council working to tackle bus challenges

North Somerset Council and bus operator First Bus are acting to reassure bus users about work being undertaken to improve services and reliability in the local area. 

Earlier this month, new commercial routes were introduced by First Bus, forming the largest change in bus services for years in the area. Some of these changes are being supported by North Somerset Council and are part of the council’s bus service improvement plan (BSIP), funded by the Department for Transport.  

Following the introduction of the changes, First Bus has been impacted by a supply and maintenance issue with some of their fleet in the Weston depot, which has negatively affected customers over the last few weeks. This has led to service cancellations, delays and buses operating at capacity and unable to meet passenger demand. Bus services are also experiencing exceptional demand due to local rail engineering works.

North Somerset Council has raised these operational issues with First Bus and sought assurances about improvements being made to stabilise, recover and grow the network. This includes repairs to the bus fleet and bringing additional resources and vehicles to North Somerset to maintain reliability. 

Some services are now the busiest they have ever been, meaning that buses are running with more capacity and higher frequencies. However, when issues arise, customers should contact First Bus directly, and inform the council. Visit and go to Complaints about council services | North Somerset Council ( 

We are committed to listening to residents in a bid to improve our bus network, making it a service where people are comfortable to leave the car at home. Our teams are monitoring the situation with First Bus closely and we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that services improve, while working to restore the confidence of our communities throughout this period of implementing bus service improvement plans. 

Passengers need a reliable and regular service. Too many people have had a poor experience in recent weeks with buses cancelled or full to capacity. We cannot ask residents to use the bus but not deliver the services needed to enable that. We will continue to hold First Bus to account and work with them and other operators to find solutions.

Mike Bell, Leader of North Somerset Council,

Firstly, I’d like to apologise to customers who have experienced issues with our services recently. The disruption in the Weston-super-Mare area is very much a short-term blip and is being caused by an issue that is affecting the availability of our vehicles.

Safety is our top priority, and following investigations into several incidents outside of North Somerset – but using similar engines to our fleet – we have had to undertake a series of checks and modifications to our maintenance procedures. This has meant we’ve had to withdraw some buses from service as we undertake these activities, working very closely with the vehicle manufacturers.  

Clearly, taking buses out of service affects our punctuality and reliability, but I’m pleased to report that we are now getting on top of this short-term issue and the situation is improving. It is unfortunate that this technical problem has coincided with the introduction of our new timetables across North Somerset, and while it is too early to see the results of these changes, we expect that once this short-term issue is resolved, the advanced scheduling software that we’ve used for the new timetables will build on the punctuality improvements it produced earlier this year.

Doug Claringbold, the Managing Director for First West of England

For more information about North Somerset Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, visit

Working in partnership, North Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority want to encourage everyone to ‘walk or wheel’ where possible, helping reach their carbon neutral goal by 2030. When that’s not possible, they want bus travel to be the first choice over car usage. Helping ease traffic congestion and a greener way to travel. 

Press release by North Somerset Council