Commuters have become so disillusioned with the “disastrous” new park and ride at Brislington that they are “resigning” from using it.
London-based transport operator CT Plus took over the running of the 904 service from First last month.
But after numerous problems a petition has been set up by passengers who have described it as a “cattle train.”
So far the petition has attracted more than 320 signatures with people complaining of late buses, fewer seats, miserable drivers, poor frequency and overcrowding.
One passenger became so disenchanted with the service that he sent a “resignation” email to Bristol City Council.
Marc Olyott, 54, of Oldland Common, wrote: “After yesterday evening’s
‘debacle’ on your 904 route between 5pm and 6pm, I gave up using it this morning for good and found a more efficient bus service to take me into work in the middle of Bristol.
“It was a very pleasant experience to have a seat and travel on a bus which was on time. I will never use the 904 again.
“The cost to Bristol City Council is the loss of my ticket money, which is presently £768 annually. There are now 327 signatures on the petition concerning the 904 route.
“Many people last night had had enough and were planning alternative transportation into Bristol.
“I imagine each of the signatories to the petition are considering using alternative transport.
“If every signatory to the petition stopped using the 904, which is highly likely at present, this will cost Bristol City Council in the region of £250,000 in lost revenue annually. This is food for thought.”
The council’s executive member for transport Councillor Tim Kent has accepted there are “teething problems” on the route.
A week ago he told the Evening Post he hoped changes he was making would help improve matters. Mr Kent is particularly keen to do this before the cost of all park and ride journeys goes up in April.
He said the changes involved a new ticketing service, called a smart card, meaning passengers don’t have to queue to board the service as they currently do.
He said as a temporary measure an extra member of staff has been added at peak time to stamp tickets.
Mr Kent also pointed to the big problem in terms of delays being down to two sets of roadworks being carried out in the area at the same time.
He added that CT Plus were running an extra service at peak time to catch up with late running.
The Post went to the Bath Road park and ride site on Friday morning to speak to passengers who use the service and found an unhappy bunch.
Andy Mills, 55, of Longwell Green said: “Last Tuesday I went to get the 5.27pm bus and one didn’t arrive until 6.05pm.
“They are meant to be every 12 minutes so how is that acceptable? When it did arrive it had to leave 30 people at our bus stop and ignore those waiting to get on at the following ones. We are not getting value for money – no way.
“The bus is always packed and very uncomfortable. Sometimes you just don’t bother trying to get on and wait for the next one.
“When you do get on lots of people are standing and they drive like lunatics. You pay £25 to go to Alton Towers but you can get just as good a time for £3.50 here.
“The service used to be much better. This has been a disaster from day one. You give a company a while to bed but it hasn’t got any better at all.”
Jeremy Liddiard, 49, of Warmley, said: “I have been ready to go into the centre of town at 5.30pm but not seen a bus until 6.10pm. That is not a service that runs every 12 minutes.
“Basically they crush us on in the morning and then we have a problem getting back – it is not acceptable.”
Becca Smith, 22, of Saltford said: “I have to get to the park and ride bang on time so that one bus is just leaving so I can be at the front of the queue to get a seat on the next one.
“In the evenings you always have to wait 45 minutes for a service that is meant to be running every 12 minutes. There is no point coming out of work at 5.30pm because you are just not going to get on a bus – it is a very poor service.
“Sometimes work want me to stay late but the buses have stopped running so late so I have to say that I can’t, which really doesn’t look very good.”
Carrie White, 34, of Bath, said: “There are not enough buses. They are meant to be every 12 minutes after work but you often have to wait 45 minutes for one to appear.
“I get a yearly pass but I don’t think I will bother to renew it. They are jam-packed with 80 people standing – how can that be safe? And I am not being funny but it’s not like they drive very safely. They go like the clappers and then brake.
“It is a shame because it had been a really good service over the last few years but you just can’t rely on it any more.”
Ben Thomas, 35, of Longwell Green said: “When the weather was unusually hot last month it was horrible all being crammed in on the bus. it was so hot and uncomfortable and all I could think of was how awful it was going to be in the summer. The whole thing is disastrous. They need to make this service better or people are just going to stop using it.”
Council spokeswoman Kate Hartas said: “The new buses have more capacity. This compensates for the reduced frequency which is due to a
£2 million reduction in the council’s supported transport budget following a withdrawal of Government funding.
“However the council acknowledges that the service can only work properly when issues over overcrowding and boarding times have been resolved.
“These have been exacerbated by congestion and we expect improvements when works on the Bath Road have been completed.
“Revised ticket arrangements for the afternoon peak periods are due to be introduced, and bus ticket machines are to be implemented which we hope will improve boarding times and reliability.
“Real time information is to be installed shortly and the council and CT Plus are ensuring drivers respect maximum capacity and maintain high driving standards.”