All Systems Go For First Metrobus Route
Regional businesses, politicians, community organisations, cultural and education leaders as well as local schoolchildren today (Friday 18 May) climbed aboard the maiden journey of the new Metrobus service, the m3. It will be the first route of the £230m rapid transit system which will go live at the end of the month and marks the beginning of one of the largest projects of its kind in the city region.
Operated by First West of England, m3 will provide a rapid public transport service from Emersons Green in South Gloucestershire to the city centre. First has invested some £10m in vehicles as part of the Metrobus development.
Officially unveiling the m3 at Bristol & Bath Science Park, James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, said: “This is a landmark for local public transport and, in particular, for the bus in the city region. Metrobus combines low emissions, new customer-facing technologies and infrastructure on a massive scale. It will revolutionise public transport with faster journeys and a much higher standard in passenger experience. It provides the foundation on which we can build a public transport system fit for the future in the city region which is the powerhouse of the regional economy.”
The unveiling of the m3 comes in the same week that First announced its MYFIRSTMILE trial to provide car commuters living in Henleaze and Westbury Park with the UK’s first integrated cab-bus service to take them from home to work without having to worry about parking, at an inclusive charge.
Added Freeman: “We are pushing the boundaries of bus travel to fulfil our ambition of being the smartest way to go about the region in every sense – from providing convenience and affordability to enhancing accessibility and air quality.”
“We are planning to continue our fleet transformation programme, which over the past two years has led to the arrival of almost 150 brand new vehicles, equipped with the cleanest Euro VI engines, which improve air quality along the routes they operate. We are also looking to grow convenient, cashless payments further so that eventually the great majority of all tickets will be purchased this way.”
James Durie, Chief Executive of the Bristol Chamber & West of England Initiative at Business West, added: “Today marks a significant step forward in public transport provision for this city region and the m3/Metrobus will help support its future growth and development by helping to better connect people with their places of work and learning. After many years of work it is great to see it now up and running.
“It is also fitting that the launch has taken place at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, one of our significant employment areas which is continuing to grow. However, this route and service is one of many steps this city region is taking to increase and improve mobility which helps tackle congestion and supports our economy. This is something business have long asked for, helped to bring about and want to see more of – and as soon as possible.”
Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), commented: “We’re delighted that Metrobus stops at UWE Bristol as it will provide affordable, accessible and convenient travel for thousands of our students between Frenchay campus and the city centre. It will also provide an excellent additional transport option for our staff, industry partners and visitors. We look forward to seeing the new buses on the m3 route serving our campus from later this month.”
Tom Beasley, Manager at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, said: “Our tenants have warmly welcomed the arrival of the m3 route which stops at the Park. Many of those who have business operations here are extremely conscious about how they travel in to and from their place of work in terms of their impact on the environment. It is great to see an environmentally friendly public transport option that will serve our tenants almost up to the door of the Science Park. m3, and Metrobus as a whole, will also be key to bringing the innovation community closer together across the city region to support future collaborations and with it economic growth.
Ann O’Driscoll, Director at North Bristol SusCom, added: “Our businesses are looking forward to the launch of the m3 Metrobus service at the end of this month. The m3 has delivered new bus stop infrastructure along a key transport corridor and will link city centre residents to major employment locations in Emersons Green.
“We also look forward the launch of the m1 service early next year, which will serve many more of our employers and Metrobus connectivity to Parkway Station. Metrobus is an important part of a much larger integrated transport vision for the West of England that hopefully will see major investment in mass transit, additional Metrobus services, new train stations, an improved bus network, segregated cycle tracks and much better facilities for pedestrians.”
m3 will officially go in service on Tuesday 29 May and will offer free travel until 9 June to give as many people as possible the opportunity to experience the premium Metrobus service. From 9th June m3, as with all Metrobus routes, will operate on a simple zonal fare structure with single journey tickets in a single zone priced at £1.50, making it one of the cheapest single journey fares in the country. An all-zone single journey is priced at £2.50. A day ticket is priced at just £4.
Tickets can be purchased off-bus using First’s popular mobile m-ticket app, via smartcard available online, which can be topped up at Payzone shops or at new iPoint ticket machines that will be installed at every stop along the route. Existing First paper tickets bought via Paypoint shops are also accepted on Metrobus, as are concessionary passes. It means Metrobus will be the only place outside London to operate a buy-before-you-board service.
Metrobus tickets can be used equally on the First West of England network in Bristol and vice versa, tickets bought on First services (including mTickets) can be used on Metrobus routes. To make travel even more easy and seamless, bus users will also be able to use the Avonfare all-operator ticket on Metrobus and all local bus services.
This week it was also announced that the m2 route will start in service in the autumn and m1 will follow early in 2019.