Bristol bus firms could be made to pay for late services

Bus operators in Bristol could be made to compensate passengers if services are late.

The proposed arrangement between the West of England Partnership and bus firms using the new "showcase" routes will also mean fares can be capped.

The new showcase routes linking Bristol with outlying areas has cost £70m.

A First Bus spokeswoman warned that introducing such a scheme could make it "commercially impossible" to run services in Bristol.

"As an operator, we consider that such matters are best delivered through a partnership where both parties are prepared to discuss options and approach negotiations with an open mind.

"By agreement of what is to be delivered, a higher standard can often be attained than where one party seeks to impose its will upon another," the firm said.

'Treated the same'

The West of England Partnership is made up of the councils in the former Avon area.

As part of the deal, the councils will ensure bus stops, shelters, bus lanes and real-time information signs are maintained.

Bus firms signing up to use the route will have to agree to compensation packages and fare caps.

Councillor Tim Kent, who is charge of transport at Bristol City Council, said bus passengers should be treated the same as those travelling by rail.

"At the moment we're negotiating quality partnerships as part of our Greater Bristol Bus Network.

"We are putting the concept in that we believe, just as rail passengers have at the moment, if your train is late by so much time you have the ability to get a refund.

"We think bus passengers should have the same rights."

The Department of Transport funded £42m of the money towards the new routes with the rest of the money coming from the councils.

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