An essential bus service linking Wells to Weston-super-Mare will run again in the new year thanks to a partnership between North Somerset Council and Somerset Council.
The 126 service between Wells and Weston-super-Mare was discontinued in October 2022 due to low passenger numbers. Operator First West of England will run the service from Tuesday 2 January after winning a tendering process.
North Somerset and Somerset Councils are jointly subsidising the route, which will operate Monday to Saturday, approximately every two hours. The funding is being split 50/50 between the authorities.
The service is funded using ring-fenced Government money from the councils’ Bus Service Improvement Plans.
Somerset Council has been subsidising a shorter 126 service between Wells and Axbridge since September 2022, operated by Libra Travel – the new service will replace this.
As well as continuing to serve the communities along the route, the new, jointly-funded 126 service connects Wells to Weston-super-Mare via Winscombe, Sandford Banwell, Hutton and Weston Hospital. It will provide journeys timed for schools and college students, including Strode College connections at Wells, Wells Blue School and Weston College.
In North Somerset the service 10 between Hutton, Hospital and Town Centre will be re-purposed to a new 9 service serving Worlebury. The126 service will provide more journeys over a longer portion of the day for Hutton and Uphill.
Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital, Councillor Mike Rigby said:
We’re really pleased to be able to offer this essential service in partnership with North Somerset.
We know losing this important connection between Wells and Weston-super-Mare was a hammer blow to a lot of communities along the route.
We have done what we can to keep communities between Wells and Axbridge connected, but we know getting the whole route back has continued to be a priority for residents and bus user groups.
It’s great we’ve been able to join forces with North Somerset and make this happen, thanks to the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Grant.
Cllr Hannah Young, Executive Member for Highways and Transport at North Somerset Council, said:
We’ve been working hard with Somerset to get the 126 back up and running, so I’m really pleased that people living in Hutton, Locking, Banwell, Sandford and Winscombe will have a regular bus service again six days a week.
It’s been designed to work for school and college students, commuters, people accessing hospital appointments and shoppers, and I hope people will love having it back again.
We’ve also been able to use this as an opportunity to respond to the call for a local bus from people living in the Worlebury area of Weston who will have a new number 9 service from 2 January. This will be a shopper service running three times a day Monday to Friday between West Wick and Weston town centre with stops at seven supermarkets along the route.
The timetable and route map for the new services will be available at www.travelwest.info later this month.