First West of England announces autumn service changes for Bristol
Bus operator First West of England will be making some changes to its services in Bristol from Sunday 6th September 2020. Most of these adjustments come as part of the COVID-19 recovery plan, with some services returning to timetables that more closely resemble their operation prior to lockdown. In a few cases, the route numbers have been adjusted in order to simplify timetables and services which cover similar routes.
Among the key changes to timetables and operating services is the introduction of some dedicated journeys for schools. These will operate as closed journeys for the use of students and teachers at specific schools or colleges only and will not be open to members of the public. Buses operating a closed school journey will have ‘s’ after the route number on the display.
Other significant changes to services include services 90, 91, and 92 returning to serving their original city centre stops, and the re-introduction of the University of Bristol’s U2 service between Bristol and Langford, which is provided for students and staff but is also available for the public to use.
James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, said: “We are still in the midst of a pandemic, so this set of changes differs from service changes that we have introduced in previous years. For instance, some services which we introduced to support workers through the lockdown are no longer needed, and some services are returning to the timetables that they operated on before COVID-19.
“We are constantly monitoring what is needed and where to get our customers moving again safely and reliably, especially now students are returning for Autumn term. Amongst new measures is the introduction of dedicated, closed services for schools in order to accommodate the increased capacity.
“We are currently carrying about half the number of passengers compared to pre lockdown and that is steadily increasing. Of course, we also have the challenge of social distancing which means we are running far more vehicles on some routes than normal.
“Many customers have gained greater flexibility around their day to day travel, which we have taken into account. We’ve also introduced some new features to help customers plan their journeys, including a pilot scheme called Bookmybusride.com during peak times on trial routes and the Space Checker website which lets you see which routes and times of day are quietest. We have also made changes to the First Bus app to include a very popular feature that shows the live location of buses and the number of seats available.
“We’d like to thank all our customers for their ongoing patience and cooperation over the last few months which has been challenging for everyone.”
Due to highway changes at the Haymarket, outbound journeys from the city towards Downend on service 5 (City Centre-St Paul’s-Fishponds-Downend) will no longer pick up at Haymarket and instead will use alternative stops at Lewins Mead and North Street.
During the week service 8 (Temple Meads-City Centre-Clifton-Bristol Zoo) will operate on a slightly reduced frequency, with journeys running every 10 minutes, rather than every 7/8 minutes. This change happens at this time every year, marking the end of the summer holiday service
Service 17 (Southmead Hospital - Keynsham) has a slightly revised timetable in place for weekend journeys. Customers are advised to check journeys before travelling.
In order to improve reliability as road traffic increases, Service 24 (Southmead Hospital-Lockleaze-City Centre-Bedminster-Ashton Vale) will operate on a slightly reduced frequency of every 12 minutes on weekdays, which is still more frequent than the pre-Covid service.
Service 36 (City Centre-Barton Hill-St Anne’s-Brislington) will see some slight changes to timings to accommodate school journeys. An additional service will operate along this route as service 36s, providing a closed service for both St Brendan’s and Oasis Academy.
Service 41x (Lawrence Hill-City Centre direct) will only operate between 09:30 and 17:00 on all days to reflect customer demand and to allow the resource to be diverted for use elsewhere on the network.
Service 42 (City Centre-Kingswood-Bitton) will operate every 60 minutes through the day. Other buses operate frequently between Kingswood and the City Centre on service 43.
Service 71, which has been suspended since lockdown began in April, will remain suspended until the start of the new academic year at UWE in October.
A new service 72a (Temple Meads Station-Blackboy Hill-Redland Station-UWE Frenchay Campus) will be introduced. This covers a substantial part of service 9 which remains suspended until further notice. Services 72 (Temple Meads Station-Cotham-Redland Station-UWE Frenchay Campus) and 72a will operate to a revised timetable in order to increase punctuality and reliability.
Since the re-opening of retail in Broadmead, services 90, 91, and 92 (City Centre - Hengrove), have had to use alternative stopping arrangements in the city centre. All three services will now return to using the stops that were used prior to COVID-19, terminating at Stop S3 in the Horsefair.
Journeys operating on service 96 (Brislington-Broadwalk-Knowle-Imperial Park-Hengrove) will be adjusted to reflect customer demand. This will result in some timetabled journeys being re-allocated to better fit school and college timings, whilst other journeys on this service being withdrawn entirely due to low take-up. All journeys on the service will be served by a double decker to cater for social distanced capacity more effectively.
Due to the ending of financial support for this service, Service 177 (Bristol-Whitchurch-Midsomer Norton) will no longer operate. Alternative facilities are available using service 178 (Bristol-Keynsham-Midsomer Norton-Radstock) and between Farrington Gurney and Bristol on service 376.
metrobus service m3x will operate on a slightly reduced frequency of every 12 minutes, Monday to Friday peak times, to allow buses more time to complete their journeys, which is in anticipation of increased peak time traffic congestion on the ring road and M32. metrobus service m3 remains suspended until further notice.
The frequency of service T1/T1b (Bristol-M32-Bradley Stoke-Thornbury) and Y1 (Bristol-M32-Coalpit Heath-Yate-Chipping Sodbury) will be slightly reduced on Mondays to Fridays. Journeys will operate every 30 minutes, rather than 20 minutes. Customers are advised to check updated timetables prior to travelling.
Service U2 (Bristol-Langford), which is operated for and on behalf of Bristol University, will be reinstated. The service is provided for the use of students and staff but is also available to local residents to use. The University has decided that this will be a cashless service, where all customers must either have a ticket in advance of travel or pay by contactless method.
Service Y3 (Bristol-M32-Winterbourne-Iron Acton-Yate) will operate every 120 minutes Monday to Friday throughout the day.
Service Y4 (Bristol-Frenchay Park Road-Frampton Cotterill-Yate) will return to its pre-lockdown Monday to Friday frequency, operating every 60 minutes rather than every 30 minutes, however, will continue to be operated with double deckers, rather than single deckers, to maximise the available capacity.
Service Y6 (Southmead Hospital-Cribbs Causeway-Parkway Station-Winterbourne–Yate–Chipping Sodbury) will operate on the same frequency and timetable as previously, though there will be a minor change to the route in the Bristol Parkway area in order to make the service more direct and serve additional stops.
Service X3x will changing service number to X5 providing express links from Portishead to Bristol with additional journey opportunities between Clevedon, Weston-in-Gordano and Walton-in-Gordano to Bristol.
Service SB1 (Special Service for St Brendan’s College) will be reintroduced but travel is only available to students of St Brendan’s College.
For details of all changes view the new timetables here: www.firstgroup.com/letsgetmovingwoe