Major investment and extra capacity coming to Bristol’s buses as First West of England announces September service changes
Bus operator First West of England will be making some changes to its services in Bristol from Sunday 15th September, investing significant extra capacity into the city to coincide with the start of the busiest time of year for travel in the city.
Notable changes include the introduction of extra peak hour buses on the Church Road corridor, extra capacity and improvements to Service 2 following the recent customer consultation, the extension of services 48 and 49 to Lyde Green and the Bath & Bristol Science Park, the introduction of Service X49 between Staple Hill and the City Centre, and more buses on the metrobus m1 service during the morning peak. The changes also coincide with the re-introduction of the Q-Buster buses to help make sure extra capacity is provided at times of high demand and congestion.
Bristol Service Changes
The 42 and 42A (City Centre – Bitton) and 44/ 44A (City Centre – Cadbury Heath) will get more buses over the busiest sections of their routes during the Monday to Friday morning peak. Extra Service 42 buses will operate between the Rodney Road stop on Two Mile Hill Road and Rupert Street in the City Centre, whilst extra Service 44 buses will operate between the Bryants Hill bus stop and Rupert Street in the City Centre. Extra Service 42A buses will operate between the Nelson Street bus stop in the City Centre and the Rodney Road stop, whilst extra Service 44A buses will operate between Nelson Street in the City Centre and the Furber Road stop on Bryants Hill.
The extra buses on these routes will operate ahead of existing scheduled services so passengers benefit from an empty bus started part way through the route. These additional buses will terminate at different points along the route, so customers are recommended to check the destination boards on the bus. There will also be additional early morning and late evening journeys on Service 42 to compensate for the withdrawal of service 35A due to very low customer demand.
Services 48 and 49 will be extended beyond the current terminus at Sainsburys in Emersons Green to Lyde Green and the Bristol & Bath Science Park. This extension of the route will open up a number of new journey opportunities for customers travelling to and from Lyde Green and the Bristol & Bath Science Park, including direct buses to Emersons Green, Mangotsfield (Service 49), Staple Hill (Service 49), Downend (Service 48), Fishponds, Eastville and Easton.
In addition, a new Service X49 will be launched between Staple Hill and the City Centre. During the morning peak Monday to Friday there will be seven additional journeys between Staple Hill and the City Centre that will provide more capacity and a faster journey into the City Centre by taking advantage of the M32 bus lane. These journeys will start at Hill House Road (alongside Page Park) and follow the Service 49 route as far as Eastville Park before joining the M32 into the City Centre and terminating at Rupert Street.
During the evening peak Monday to Friday there will be nine additional journeys between the City Centre and Staple Hill. These journeys will start from Rupert Street in the City Centre and operate the normal Service 49 route as far as Hill House Road (alongside Park Park) in Staple Hill. These additional journeys will follow the normal Service 49 route and unlike the morning peak journeys will not use the M32 to reach Eastville Park. This is to avoid customer confusion and to allow the bus stops at Cabot Circus and Old Market to be served.
With term-time starting in September, Service U3 (City Centre – UWE) will be reinstated and services 70 (Bristol Temple Meads/city centre – UWE) and 71 (UWE Bower Ashton – UWE) will run at an increased frequency of every 15 minutes. Service 48A (City Centre – UWE) will also increase in frequency from every 20 minutes to every 10 minutes for peak-time journeys during term-time, with a slight reduced frequency for off-peak journeys.
To meet passenger demand, Service 24 (Southmead Hospital – Ashton Vale) will be upgraded to a double-decker bus route, increasing capacity from 185 to 300 seats per hour. Owing to a low bridge around Ashton Vale, we are currently considering what further action can be taken to improve accessibility for local journeys around Ashton Vale.
Following an extensive public consultation – including a survey that received more than 1,000 responses – the Service 2 (Cribbs Causeway – Stockwood) route will be altered from the 15th September in the Brentry and Henbury area, to avoid traffic approaching the Old Crow roundabout. Extra buses are being added to make the service more resilient to poor traffic conditions, and extra journeys are being added on weekday evenings, between 19.00 and 21.00 hours. After 15th September, day time services on the 76 (Henbury – Hengrove) will no longer run between Crow Lane and Tormarton Crescent, as this route will now be replaced by Service 2.
Having operated Service T3 for over six months, it is clear that the service is not commercially viable. The difficult decision has therefore been taken to withdraw the service from 1 September 2019. While providing some unique sections of route, the T3 duplicates or operates close to other services, such as the 73, m1 and T1. Since the introduction of them1, we have seen a number of customers transfer over from other services, as it offers more direct journeys to and from the City Centre and at a much higher frequency. The majority of customers currently using Service T3 will be able to use Services 73, m1 and T1 to complete their journeys after 1 September 2019.
Service m1 started operating in January 2019, and September will see some adjustments based on the operating experience so far and the expected conditions in the autumn and winter. From 15 September, additional buses will be used to provide additional morning peak journeys between Patchway Brook / UWE Frenchay Campus and Broadmead. Journeys will operate in both directions and will provide additional capacity for commuters travelling into the City Centre and students travelling to UWE Frenchay Campus. The additional buses will not be metrobus branded vehicles.
Although the m1 is very popular at peak times, the drop-off in passengers outside of the busy periods has been very significant. To better reflect this pattern, from 1 September, the Monday to Friday off-peak and Saturday daytime frequency will be reduced from every 10 minutes to every 12 minutes and the Monday to Saturday evening frequency will be reduced from every 10 minutes to every 20 minutes. On Sundays and Public Holidays, buses will start operating two hours earlier, at 0700, and run every 30 minutes between 0700 and 0900. These additional journeys follow requests from customers.
Ian Coyle, Operations Director for Bristol at First West of England, said:
“The changes we’re making this September represent a significant investment in our Bristol services. We’re adding more capacity, increasing frequency and making changes to ensure that our services are more reliable for our customers. We have listened to feedback and made changes where possible to reduce the impact of this service revision.
“We know that congestion in Bristol is often exacerbated in the Autumn with the end of the summer holidays. This extra pressure on the city’s road network makes it very challenging to run our services, but these changes are designed to ensure we’re providing the best level of service we can for our customers. The return of our highly successful Q-Buster buses to add extra capacity at the busiest and most congested times to support our service during this period.”