Bus service alterations from 4th September

A First West of England bus, pictured in Bristol city centre.

Bus operator First West of England has announced that it is to withdraw the X74 service that links Bradley Stoke with Bristol city centre, via the University of the West of England (UWE) and the M32, with effect from 4th September.

There will also be changes to Bradley Stoke’s other main bus service, the 73 (Cribbs Causeway to Bristol) from the same date. These include extending the route to Bristol Temple Meads Station and reducing the Monday to Friday peak time frequency to ‘every 15 minutes’.

The X74 was introduced with a fanfare of publicity in August 2014. It effectively replaced the former Wessex 13 service and, like the 13, received financial support from South Gloucestershire Council. Its withdrawal will once again leave Braydon Avenue without a bus service, with passengers having to make their way to either Brook Way or Little Stoke Lane to access alternative services.

The reduction in the peak frequency of the 73 means that the service will now operate with a frequency of ‘every 15 minutes’ throughout the day Monday to Friday, compared to ‘every 10 minutes’ three years ago.

A First spokesperson said:

“From 4th September, the vast majority of service 73 journeys will be extended to and from Bristol Temple Meads. This comes on the back of customer requests for buses to operate beyond the current terminus at Lewins Mead and also creates a number of new journey opportunities. There will also be some changes to the timetable of service 73. More details about the change to this service will be published soon. In the meantime anyone wanting more information about the changes to service 73, should log onto the First Bristol website (www.firstgroup.com/bristol) from 8th August to review the new timetables.”

The new service 73 timetables are already available on the Traveline SW website www.travelinesw.com

Alternative services for X74 passengers

  • A new service ‘UWE’ will be introduced and will provide a replacement for service X74 between the city centre and UWE along with the existing X14 operated by Wessex Bus
  • Little Stoke will continue to be served by services 18/18A, 19, 82 and 625 with services 18/18A and 19 providing up to four buses per hour to and from UWE
  • Filton continues to be served by services 75, 78 and 79, providing a service to and from the city centre
  • Passengers on Brook Way (section served by service X74) may be able to use Services 73/X73 and 77

Journal editor Stephen Horton comments

Are Bradley Stoke’s bus services starting to be gradually run down ahead of the introduction of MetroBus? I can’t say I’m surprised at these changes as, once MetroBus is up and running, it seems unlikely that existing services will remain profitable when operating at their current frequencies.

This article originally appeared in the August 2016 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.

Postscript (6th August): Cllr Paul Hardwick writes: “There is a meeting for all residents affected by cuts in services x74, x18 17a and any others on 11th August 7pm at Kingswood Civic Centre (in the council chamber) with James Freeman from First Bus. I will be going with a concerned Bradley Stoke resident.”

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  1. Can’t say I am surprised, as whenever I use the X74 it is almost empty. Altering the route to add another 5-10 Bradley Stoke stops would have helped.

    The 73/X73 on the other hand are always busy, but the 73 takes so long to get to the centre, and extending the route and dropping the frequency will not help.

    The best thing First could have done is used Bristol Parkway as local bus centre and sell a combined bus train ticket. Every 30 minutes there is a train to Temple Meads that takes 12-15 minutes.

    Since Metrobus building started I have given up the buses, mostly and now cycle to Bristol Parkway to get to Bristol. Much quicker, reliable and the similar cost!

  2. “Postscript (6th August): Cllr Paul Hardwick writes: “There is a meeting for all residents affected by cuts in services x74, x18 17a and any others on 11th August 7pm at Kingswood Civic Centre (in the council chamber) with James Freeman from First Bus. I will be going with a concerned Bradley Stoke resident.”
    This proves how blind and out of touch these officials are!!!! why hold a meeting at Kingswood when it is affecting Bradley Stoke residents TAKING AWAy THIS SERVICE IS A JOKE come on First bus and the Council Get A grips

  3. I wrote to the local councils to express my concerns and was told about the meetings, which unfortunately I could not attend due to location and short notice. However what was the outcome of this meeting – what was discussed and what if anything changed ( suspect nothing ). I would have thought the various councils might have published minutes and sent them to concerned residents ? Is the journal following this up ?

  4. @Simon, @Andy, The meeting in Kingswood on 11th August was attended by over 100 people, most of them from the eastern side of Bristol (concerned about cuts to services 17A, 37 & 178). The X74 was only mentioned a couple of times.

    The bottom line is that the cuts WILL happen on 4th September. There is no way of avoiding this as 56 days notice of any alterations must be given to the traffic commissioner.

    James Freeman, MD of First West of England, blamed the cuts on “dwindling [financial] support” from local authorities for non-profitable services, increased traffic congestion (requiring more buses per route in order to maintain frequency) and low passenger numbers at non-peak times on some services.

    Mr Freeman added that legislation prevents operators from cross-subsidising services, so if the local authority doesn’t step in, non-profitable routes/journeys will be cut.

    A representative of the local Green Party said SGC could step in to subsidise the services being cut, but was strapped for cash due to government austerity measures. He said the government needs to divert money from roads building, which he claimed “doesn’t appear to be impacted by austerity”.

    A number of council officers were present, but they said nothing for the whole two-hour meeting.

    The Journal is currently making enquiries regarding the the level of SGC’s financial support for bus services and the extent to which this has changed.

  5. From the First press release (issued after our August magazine went to print):

    Service X74 (City Centre – Bradley Stoke): Reflecting the lack of demand for direct journeys between Bradley Stoke and UWE, this service is being withdrawn and replaced instead by an express service between the City Centre and UWE (Service UWE). While the decision to withdraw Service X74 is regrettable, the majority of customers should be able to use other services to complete their journeys. Specifically, for journeys to and from the Willow Brook Centre, Services 73/X73 can be used. For journeys to and from Brook Way Services 73/X73 or 77 can be used. People travelling to and from Little Stoke may be able to use Services 18/18A, 19 or 82. Those travelling to and from Filton will be able to use Services 75, 78 and 79 for journeys to and from the city centre. People who currently board buses on Braydon Avenue in Bradley Stoke will need to use buses from Brook Way or Little Stoke Lane instead.

    Source: http://bit.ly/2bwpeVR

  6. It is ridiculous that Bradley Stoke, with a population in excess of 25K has a single bus with cut service level. Do SGC and First want to create more congestion?

    It is about time that SGC/FirstBus introduced some local routes that ‘connect’ to Bristol bound services at Parkway, UWE, Aztech and Cribbs, and allow people to travel within our area!

  7. iam 65 and my husband is 88 years old and disabled, we do not posess alternative transport. X74 is the only bus on which iam relay for shopping at Tesco For health reason im unable walking distance with shopping bag .This bus is the necessity!

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