First services not right for a long time, says bus boss

First Bus Image copyright first bus
Image caption First is the West's biggest bus company

The boss of Bristol and Bath bus operator First has admitted the service on some of his routes has "not been right for a long time".

James Freeman, who joined the firm a year ago, apologised after criticism from callers to BBC Radio Bristol.

He said First was in the middle of a "massive rescheduling" of local services - with 58 new double deckers coming into service in the autumn.

Passengers on major Bristol routes were up 25% with a 10% rise in Bath.

Wrong place

Bus services were described as "diabolical" by one caller to a BBC Radio Bristol phone-in - who complained that his wife's bus - the 43 - had not turned up at all 17 times since December.

Others complained that buses were too packed to board, stopped in the wrong place and that drivers simply did not know the area.

Mr Freeman, managing director for Bristol and the West of England, said buses and drivers were having to be brought in from outside Bristol to cope with pressure on services - which had seen an "amazing" increase year on year.

New low-carbon buses had been ordered and new drivers were being recruited, he said.

The firm had too many single-decker buses - many of which were now being replaced by a new fleet of double deckers.

"I'm really, really sorry for all the problems, anybody who travels on those services will know they are not right," he said.

"They are a bit better at the moment because of the summer traffic but the fact is, they have not been right for a long time and we are reorganising them and rescheduling them."

First is the biggest bus company in the West of England, operating 567 vehicles and employing about 1,700 people across the region.

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