First to Start Operating Metrobus m2 Service on Monday 3 September
- m2 Service to Operate Monday to Saturday between Long Ashton P&R and City Centre
- First to Offer Promotional m2 Week Ticket for £10 During First Two Weeks
- Second Metrobus Route to Build on the Success of the m3 with 120,000 Passenger Journeys Since Launch
Local bus operator First Bristol will start operating the new m2 metrobus service from Monday September 3rd, the company announced. The m2 service is the second metrobus service to launch this year following a successful launch of the m3 service earlier this year. The m2 service will run between Long Ashton P&R and the City Centre serving Ashton Gate Stadium, SS Great Britain, Wapping Wharf, Temple Meads Station and Cabot Circus. It replaces the current 903 Service between Long Ashton P&R and the city centre, which is operated under contract to Bristol City Council.
On Mondays to Saturdays the m2 Service will run from 6am, with the last bus leaving the Long Ashton P&R at 9.30pm. During peak times it will operate every 10 minutes, every 12 minutes during the off-peak, and three times per hour after 7pm. On Saturdays the service operates every 12 minutes between 10am and 6pm, and 3 times hourly at other times.
James Freeman, Managing Director First Bristol, said
We are looking forward to taking metrobus to the next level and start operating the m2 Service. Since we started operating the m3 Metrobus Service from Lyde Green to City Centre at the end of April, we have been delighted to see steadily growing passenger numbers with around 120,000 journeys made so far; and appreciated a lot of positive feedback from customers. The m2 serves popular leisure destinations such as Ashton Gate, SS Great Britain and Wapping Wharf, Cabot Circus for shopping and Temple Meads for onwards travel, and we hope that it will appeal to many customers. A key benefit for future customers, including current Service 903 users, is that all of First’s wide range of day, season and group tickets will be accepted on Metrobus m2, allowing through travel onto other services.
Councillor Mhairi Threlfall, Cabinet member at Bristol with responsibility for transport said:
It’s great news that we have a start date for the m2, I’m really looking forward to riding it.
The Council-subsidised 903 P&R Service will be withdrawn and First will operate the m2 commercially without subsidy. In the first two weeks of operations, First will be offering m2 customers discounted travel with a promotional m2 week ticket for just £10, which is a 41% discount compared to a normal £17 FirstWeek ticket.
Metrobus is the UK’s first buy-before-you-board service outside London, which means customers must be in possession of valid tickets when they board the service as tickets cannot be bought from the driver. Instead, customers can buy tickets securely through the popular First Bus mTicket smartphone app (with a debit or credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay or Pingit), as well as from the newly-installed iPoints at every metrobus stop, or by using the TravelWest smart card which can be topped up online, at iPoints using bank cards, or at Payzone stops and the Travel Shop at the Bus Station using cash, banknotes or bank cards. Concessionary passes as well as First’s standard day and season tickets are also valid as normal.
Metrobus operates a very simple fare structure; There are two zones and the boundary is between the Long Ashton P&R and Ashton Vale. Customers buying single journeys and travelling in just one metrobus zone pay £1.50, while a single journey across both zones costs £2.50. For anybody making more than one journey, the day ticket, allowing travel on all First services across Bristol, is priced at £4.
A ride along the new route will be an exciting experience as the m2 has novel engineering features, such as the impressive skew bridge at Ashton Gate as well as the guided busway itself, which has steel guiderails mounted on both sides along certain sections of the bus-only part of the route. Whilst in the guideway, small guidewheels fitted to the front axle of the vehicle make sideways contact with the rails and keep the bus tightly in position, requiring no additional steering by the driver. The guideway allows buses to pass through narrow spaces with complete accuracy every time.
James Freeman said:
We have been working in collaboration with the Council and their contractors during the building and testing of the guideway over the past months, and more recently when some engineering modifications were being put in place. We’re now fully satisfied that the guideway is safe to operate, conforms to the required standard for guided busways and meets the build quality to sustain heavy use – the guided busway is anticipated to be used more than 10,000 times every month by the m2 service as well as other services in the future.
Over recent years, First has invested significant resources in the guided busway project: It allocated hundreds of hours of its operations, engineering and management staff as well as vehicles for weeks of rigorous testing. To ensure the guideway conformed to the standard required of guided busways and it was safe to operate. First retained the services of a specialist guided busway consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in developing, implementing and operating bus guideways in Australia, Germany and the UK, where he has been involved in every guideway in operation today.
In the weeks prior to operations, First will be undertaking driver training on the route and guideway.