Stagecoach axes Exeter’s new night bus service

After being declared ‘not fit for purpose’, Exeter’s failing bus service has announced major timetable changes which include a reduction in some services, new routes and the loss of a newly the city’s recently launched night bus. Stagecoach says its new bus work is being implemented at the end of the month due to changes in peoples’ travel patterns following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anita Merritt 

The bus service fire has come under vast criticism from dissatisfied passengers since the pandemic. Cancellations and reduced timetables have been blamed on a lack of drivers and a drop in passengers compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Exeter’s highways committee recently describing the city’s bus service as ‘not fit for purpose’. Devon County Council heard in April that it would only receive £14 million towards bus improvements as part of the government’s ‘bus back better’ programme – less than half the amount it originally bid for.

Today, July 4, Stagecoach has unveiled plans for what it calls a ‘more sustainable bus network’ to attract greater passenger numbers over the long term. The changes in Exeter, developed in consultation with Devon County Council, will be effective from July 31 and include the following:

  • Exeter Park & Ride services timing changes
  • Redesigned connections from the city centre to Exminster and Pinhoe / Science Park, affecting routes B/2B, L and K
  • Enhancement to services between Exeter and Cranbrook, with a redesigned service for journeys onto Honiton and Axminster, affecting routes 4/4A/4B. Changes will also take place beyond Seaton on and route 9A
  • Simplified services between Tiverton / Cullompton and Exeter, affecting routes 1/1A/1C
  • Exeter Night Buses will be withdrawn until the autumn with Devon County Council looking at the feasibility of an alternative solution
  • Some minor changes to the location of stand departures at Exeter Bus Station
  • A frequency change to Route 56 connecting the city centre to Exeter Airport

Stagecoach South West managing director Mike Watson said: “We have designed a new core package of services to provide a sustainable bus network now, so that we can grow services over the long term. In addition to this, with the current nationwide shortage of bus drivers, we need to concentrate our resource on the services where demand is greatest to ensure that vital journeys and connections are maintained and to provide a network that best meets the changing needs of the communities we serve.

“Buses remain fundamental to daily life in Britain. Looking ahead, they are also critical to helping achieve a green economic recovery, tackling climate change, ensuring cleaner air, and supporting connected communities.

“We will be working together with national and local government to attract more people out of their cars and onto more sustainable public transport. The more people who switch to bus, the stronger our networks will be. It can generate vital investment for more electric vehicles, helps keep fares low and ultimately will help us to expand the bus network to meet new demand.”

The changes in full can be found here