First to introduce new timetables in effort to improve reliability

A First West of England X73 bus at the Linden Drive stop in Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

First Bus has confirmed that it is to introduce new timetables on many services from Sunday 29th March, including the 73/X73 and X74 routes in Bradley Stoke, in an effort to improve reliability and punctuality.

The news comes four months after an online bus travel survey conducted by The Journal amassed more than 300 complaints about buses failing to run to the published timetable, taking much longer than scheduled to reach their destinations and sometimes failing to turn up at all or terminating short of their final destination.

First has blamed the problems on a 20 percent rise in the number of passengers, worsening traffic congestion and an increase in the number of major roadworks.

To underpin the changes, the company says it is seeking to recruit more than 70 new drivers to work in the city, helping to operate 12 additional buses that will be brought into its fleet at the end of March.

City centre stop changes

All 73/X73/X74 buses will start and terminate at Lewins Mead instead of Colston Avenue to reduce the likelihood of them being caught in congestion around the centre. This will also enable all driver changes to be completed at the end of a journey rather than part-way through.

Service 73/X73 changes

Service X73 buses will no longer cover the section of route between Aztec West Roundabout and Cribbs Causeway, nor will they call at East Filton Sainsbury’s. Instead of the latter, they’ll travel directly along Great Stoke Way.

Two extra vehicles will be used, helping to minimise the impact of traffic congestion. They will mean that the frequency of Monday to Friday peak time journeys on Service 73 can be improved (to every 12-15 minutes). This should avoid the need for journeys to be cancelled, or cut short due to excessive late running as a result of congestion.

The timetable for evening journeys is being overhauled with one of the two extra buses used to ensure that the service during the evening is more punctual and reliable.

Service X74 changes

The timetable is being adjusted to improve the punctuality and reliability of the services. Buses at peak times will be given additional running time and recovery time at the end of journeys to ensure if they are delayed en route there is no knock on effect to subsequent journeys.

There will also be a number of additional Monday to Friday and Saturday evening journeys introduced and a brand new Sunday and Public Holiday timetable is being introduced.

Notably, the new Sunday and Public Holiday timetable, which will see buses running every 30 minutes between 1000 and 1800 hours, will give people in Little Stoke the opportunity to travel on these days, while also providing faster journeys between Bradley Stoke and the city centre.

Finally, a small number of early morning Monday to Friday and Saturday journeys – which are poorly used at present – will be removed from the timetable.

James Freeman, managing director of First West of England, said:

“We are making a whole raft of changes to our network from the end of March in a real effort to tackle the problems we have seen recently with services not running as they should do.”

New timetables for all the affected services will be uploaded to the First West of England website from early March. They will be available in hard copy format from mid-March.

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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  1. can someone tell me why a bus in the early evening can’t go to the centre, if I go to the theatre at the hippodrome or Colston hall and need to return later than 9.30 surely safety must be a concern. I was of the opinion that the idea was to get more people to travel by bus, someone needs to reconsider at least the evening timetable

  2. It’s good to see they have put a lot more emphasis on the X74 and its indirect route to Bradley Stoke. And they have made the morning buses to run at such a time it’s bad for anyone starting work on the hour like most people surely do? Thankfully I am on flexi hours but for many it’s not good news.

    The optimism for an improved service has already evaporated due to poor timetabling.

  3. ‘they blame 20% increase in passenger numbers’ …. There is no pleasing some companies. Blaming having more (I assume paying) customers!

  4. Just looked at the timetable – am I right in that they have taken away two x73s and if I start work at 9.00 I have to be in town for 8.00 – how does this improve the service!!!!

  5. The new timetables have now been posted at bus stops and made available in the Forthcoming Timetables section on the First website (see page 7; the first 73/X73 link lists only the 73 times, the second 73/X73 link lists only the X73 times).

    From 29th March, the new timetables will appear on the Current Timetables page.

  6. So basically their solution to make the X73 more reliable was to axe most of the buses. First are a dire joke. Is it any wonder people drive into the centre with antics like this going on? 20,000 people-ish in these parts and less than 300 on 3 buses can now get into th city centre each day via a bus. Genius.

  7. it is a joke that First have decided that the best way to improve reliability is to take 3 X73 morning buses off. That’s definitely not the solution I thought they would come to. I was hoping they would increase the frequency not cut it in half

  8. So First solution is to remove capacity for 180 passengers to travel to Bristol in the morning.

    Will the people affected not travel, use a car or even the 73/X74 instead?

    This is a crazy situation! The X73 should be a 30 minute service starting at Willow Brook Centre.

  9. Only the second day of new timetable and the X74 07:40 no show Not a good start to the improved service – I had to get the 07:57 73 so late for work again.

  10. 07.42 X74 turned up at 07.55, blamed the new timetable for the reason he was late. Also had ran out of change by then?!

    How on earth can they plan a new timetable for this length of time yet still get it horrendously wrong? An absolute joke of a company that know people rely on them, so won’t improve any time soon.

  11. 07:40 Willowbrook X74 arrived at 07:45:56 not much hope that the timetable will work especially as the traffic very light due to the school holidays, what time will it arrive when normal traffic resumes??

  12. This morning’s 07:42 (Baileys Court to Centre) was a no show. Yesterday it was 7 mins early, I saw it heading to the stop as I cut across Bradley Stoke cricket pitch at 07:35.

  13. For North Bristolians, the use of Bus Services makes sense only if they do not have access to the Car.

    Bus – £68 a month . 1.5 hrs to get to work ( 15 minutes waiting for the late 73/74 + 1 hr on the bus + 10 minutes walk )

    Car – £25 in fuel a month , 25 minutes to get to work via M32 . This also saves an hours childcare cost because you can pick up your kid an hour early.

    Where is the incentive to use public transport ?

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