First West of England announces January service changes for Bristol
Bus operator First West of England will be making some changes to its services in Bristol from Sunday 5th January 2020. These changes are designed to better reflect customer demand and improve reliability and punctuality of services across the city.
The number of customers using the city’s metrobuses has grown steadily, with more than four million passengers carried across the three routes since the launch of the services.
The m1 service between Hengrove and Cribbs Causeway has seen varying customer demand across peak and off-peak times. Additional peak capacity was added to the busiest sections of the route in September, and with peak demand continuing to grow, the number of buses between the City Centre and Patchway Brook during weekday morning and evening peaks will increase in January, with some of the extra buses starting or terminating at Parson Street Station. This will mean a bus will run every 7-8 minutes on this section of the route at weekday peak times compared to the current 10 minutes, an increase of 33% in the number of seats provided.
Outside of peak times on this section of the route, and throughout the day on the remainder of the route, the weekday m1 service will now operate every 15 minutes. On Saturdays, buses will operate every 20 minutes throughout the route, and there are no changes to the frequency of buses on Sundays and public holidays.
Whilst all three metrobus services have proved extremely popular at peak times, customer demand at other times during the week, and at weekends, continues to be much lower than the level of service provided. As a result, from January there will also be a small reduction in the frequency of off-peak journeys on the m2 and m3 metrobus services.
Service m2 (Long Ashton - City Centre) will continue to operate every 10 minutes during peak times on weekdays but will run at a slightly reduced frequency of every 20 minutes during off-peak times on weekdays and Saturday. Some evening departure times on this service have also been revised. To encourage more sustainable travel at weekends, and to coincide with the start of the busier spring period, a new Sunday service will operate every 20 minutes on the m2 from 5 April 2020.
Service m3 (City Centre - Emersons Green) will run a slightly reduced frequency of every 30 minutes from approximately 10.00 to 15.00 on weekdays and all day on Saturday. The frequency of Sunday services is unchanged.
Rob Pymm, Commercial Director at First West of England, said: “As metrobus grows in popularity, we continue to learn more about people’s travel patterns and this helps us to adjust the services and make sure we have the right number of buses in the right places at the right times. Peak time services are exceeding expectations, so we are pleased to be able to put extra peak buses on the busiest section of m1 from January and also launch a Sunday service on the m2 from April, but to make these investments we need to ensure that we have the right level of service during the quieter periods as well.
“We are working closely with the metrobus team to develop ways of encouraging more off-peak demand and to get things moving in the new year we’ll shortly be launching a January offer aimed at getting more people to use metrobus during what is typically a quiet month after the festive period.”
From 6 January until the end of the month, a group ticket on all metrobus services will be available from 10.00 on weekdays allowing up to 5 people to travel for £5.00.
Rob added: “85% of metrobus users told us they’d recommend metrobus to family and friends, so we really hope people will take advantage of the offer and give metrobus a try.”
Other Bristol Services
Following customer feedback, minor improvements will be made to Service 24 (Southmead Hospital – Ashton Gate / Ashton Vale) and the accompanying shuttle bus Service 24A in Ashton Vale. Where possible, the new timetable will also facilitate better connections between the 24 and 24A at Ashton Gate. The frequency remains unchanged.
With the usual downturn in demand in January, the supplementary buses operated on the busiest parts of services 42 and 44 along Church Road via St George will no longer be needed, so the timetables on these services will return to the normal full winter frequency they have operated in previous years. This will mean Service 44A will no longer operate, and Service 42A will revert to its previous timetable (to and from Kingswood). It is anticipated that the extra journeys will return in Autumn 2020 when customer demand increases again.
With customer demand dropping away a little during the winter and spring months, some services will run at a slightly decreased frequency during off-peak times from 5 January. Service 1 (Cribbs Causeway – Broomhill), Service 2 (Cribbs Causeway – Stockwood), Service 75 (Hengrove – Cribbs Causeway) and Service 76 (Hengrove – Henbury / Cribbs Causeway) will operate every 15 minutes during off-peak times, with the reduced frequency also applying to the 75 and 76 services during Saturday daytime. Service 70 (Bristol Temple Meads / City Centre – UWE) and Service 71 (UWE (Bower Ashton) – UWE) will operate every 20 minutes during off-peak times, Monday to Friday.
The route of Service 76 will be altered slightly in the Southmead Hospital area, with buses operating through the Southmead Hospital grounds. This route change will significantly improve access to Southmead Hospital for customers using Service 76 and also avoid buses queuing at the double mini-roundabouts on Southmead Road. The stop at Greenfield Road will no longer be served, however customers can use alternative stops at Monks Park Avenue, Southmead Road or Southmead Hospital.
Minor timetable changes will be made to a number of other services, all of which are designed to improve reliability and punctuality. Customers using Service 36 (City Centre – Brislington), Service 90 (City Centre – Hengrove Depot), Service 91 (City Centre – Hengrove Depot), Service 92 (City Centre – Rookery Farm / Hengrove Depot) and the A1 and A2 services to Bristol Airport are advised to check the new timetables.
New timetables will be available online at the First West of England website from Friday 6th December 2019.