Reliability of 73 and X73 bus services hits another low after timetable change

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

Users of First West of England’s 73 and X73 bus routes have complained that the services have become “utterly shocking” and “unreliable” since the latest timetable change on 4th September.

Things got off to a poor start over the first couple of days when a failure of First’s IT system led to drivers on some routes in Bristol being unable to charge passengers for tickets or follow the new timetables.

As part of the changes, the frequency of the 73 service was reduced to ‘every 15 minutes’ during peak times (previously ‘every 12 minutes’), but there have been numerous reports of buses being cancelled or not turning up on time, with one passenger reporting a wait of an hour for a bus from Bradley Stoke to Bristol.

The 73 service was also extended to Bristol Temple Meads Station, which one reader has claimed has contributed to the problems due to the longer overall route.

The ‘peak hours only’ X73 service has also been the subject of complaints about cancelled journeys and ‘no shows’.

There have also been changes to the stops served by the 73 & X73 in the city centre, but passengers have reported that drivers have sometimes been using the ‘old’ stops, resulting in them missing their intended bus.

Scores of passengers have taken to social media to express their anger in messages directed at First. One, Emily S, wrote:

“@FirstBSA My 73 bus has been either late or just not showed up virtually every day for 3 weeks! I’m late for work again! What’s going on?!”

Another, Kellie H, wrote:

“@FirstBSA Since the timetable change the 73 service has been utterly shocking! So infrequent and unreliable…”

The Journal is today launching a new survey of readers’ travel experiences, with the intention of building up an evidence base that can be presented to service operators, local councils and regulators.

We are asking users of the 73 and X73 services to record any issues, either here on our website (by leaving a comment on this article), on The Journal’s Facebook page (by sending a message or leaving a comment on this post), via The Journal’s Twitter feed or by texting The Journal on 01454 300 400.

Please be sure to tell us which service you were using, the direction of travel (e.g. to/from city centre or Cribbs Causeway) and which stop you were using.

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  1. Only last week, whilst crossing The Centre from Baldwin St towards Colston Avenue I had to wait as three 73 buses, signed for Cribbs Causeway, passed.

    We all know the traffic in Bristol is bad, and any bus that contends with multiple congestion points is going to have problems.

    First should have added an extra bus, or two, to keep the 12 minute interval, or added a BPW-Cribbs bus to to help people travel within the area

  2. I get the x73 every day to work and home again. Buses showing up, up to 10 mins early, in a morning the whole of last week and the week before. Been late every morning this week and so I’ve been late in to work. Its also dropped off different places everyday. In an evening it’s hit and miss as to whether it will turn up at all, or just miss out your bus stop. And the timetable on the app says different times to what the driver has. Service has been shocking, I’m almost surprised now when the bus turns up! I’ve complained twice to the company and I know I’m not the only one. No response as of yet.

  3. I regularly get the X73 bus in the morning and evening and have been frustrated by:
    A) the morning bus running early and going past my stop up to 5 mins before it is due
    B) the evening bus not showing or starting at the Centre gate stop as advise by the timetable.

    Both of the above should be easy to rectify for first but at present they appear to be struggling to communicate with their drivers.

    In regards to the issue with the time gaps between buses I actually feel a little sorry for first as the traffic in North Bradley Stoke in the morning is horrendous. It can take up to 25 mins for the bus to go 400-500 meters when trying to get out onto the roundabout by the Pizza Hut and Aldi. This is then obviously having a massive knock on effect that people further down the line won’t know about. This is not the drivers fault but I actually blame the council, for since they opened the left hand turn to come out from by the business Park up by the Aztec roundabout the traffic on the Pizza Hut/Aldi roundabout and surrounding roads has got worse.

    We can only hope that the Metro bus work doesn’t have any more hold ups as this is one of the reasons why traffic is currently so bad.

    We can then look forward to the faster Metro bus route when they finnally arrive.

  4. I have waited bus 73 at sainsbury bus stop near uwe today Wed September 21. The bus was supposed to come at 2:32 but it didn’t turn up. The next bus came 5 minutes late as well. They increased day ticket price for students from 2.8 to 3 but their service became too bad. You should increased the reliability of the public transportation not to get it worse. I am really disappointed.

  5. Appalled at the 73 service. Has never been on time in the last 3 weeks, I use it from webbs wood road to parkway and later the return journey. The time between one bus leaving and the next bus arriving is usually between 40 and 50 mins, on some mornings I have experienced a 73 to temple meads turning up extremely late and then saying it is only going to Bristol parkway instead of the full journey to temple meads, ruining many peoples’ journeys into the centre.

  6. My son needs to get to City of Bristol College at College Green by 9am and is new to travelling into the City Centre on his own.
    The 73 from Bradley Stoke Willow Brook is never on time and it takes him about an hour and 20 mins on the bus journey alone.
    When he eventually gets to the Centre, the bus doesn’t stops there (even though he has pressed the bell and is waiting to get off) and takes him onwards to Temple Meads missing the Centre stop!
    I have contacted first Bus Customer Services but they haven’t contacted me back.
    Starting your journey at just gone 7am in the morning to arrive by 9am should be sufficient but its not! Its an appalling service, runs late, drivers are rude and unhelpful, doesn’t stop at the Centre and it takes far too long.

  7. With the demise of the X74, there is only ONE reliable method to get into Bristol by public transport, that is train from BPW.

    Every hour, there are four/five trains and they take 15 minutes.

    First Bus have proven they are not interested in Bradley Stoke. They continually chnage the routes, add/remove buses and keep adding complexity to the 73/X73 route to make it longer and less reliable.

    About the time MetroBus arrives, MetroWest Phase 1 will occur with four tracking of the line from BPW to BTM, allowing six trains an hour.

  8. The 73 bus drove passed my daughter waiting to go to college at 7:47 am on highwood road ,He was late and just laughed as he drove past.

    Such poor service , really think you need to sort this out First bus

  9. We’ve recently had a few bad experiences with the 73 night bus service (but I don’t have dates/times for all of them so here’s the details of the most recent one).

    We attempted to get the 73 bus on Saturday night/sun am (17th/18th Sept) at 00:05, but it did not turn up, I replacement was run 20 mins late, which charged us £3.50 instead of £3, and then promptly literally chucked everyone off the bus at the willow brook centre. Forcing everyone left that needed to get anywhere towards cribs causeway to walk.

    The driver informed us he had been told to do this, and would not go any further, even though there was someone with walking sticks who had a problem walking. There was also a young girl on the bus, who needed to walk for about 30 mins on her own because the service had been cut short. Where is the duty of care in this case? He also advised there would be no more buses that night so we were grateful we’d got home at all (ie 01:05 or 02:05).

    The bus service in Bristol is and always has been a joke, they are not accountable for their service, and ignore people that make complaints (which we often do in writing), they do not care about the people that use the services and are just interested in making money. I have been to third world countries with a better bus/coach service.

    It seems at times that they almost want to get people so fed up with a service that they don’t use it and then they cut it from their schedule and blame low usage, especially if the route is unprofitable or inconvenient to get drivers to cover.

  10. I’ve been late for work the last 2 weeks due to the 73 not turning up on time I am a disabled person so find this disgusting. Been in contact with customer services but they said they can’t do anything . I went to get the bus at 17:25 yesterday 26th September 4 busses went by full and wouldn’t let anyone on which then meant for me to get the number 8 bus to temple meads to get the train. I spend £68 a month on bus travel and feel that I don’t get anything from it !

  11. The 4.25 X73 from The Centre to Aztec West didn’t turn up today. Apparently it did run but missed out the first stop. I then waited for a 73 to turn up but the 4.45ish one didn’t appear. At just before 5pm a 73 finally turned up. It took me 2 1/2 hrs to get home tonight, instead of the usual 1hr 10 mins. First Bus really needs to sort out its communication with the drivers.

  12. Absolutely beyond a joke. Have been waiting at Cribbs Causeway for the 73 over the past 3 weeks for sometimes up to an hour, with 20-30 angry people wondering where their bus is. Numerous times the 73 has turned up, with an audible sigh of relief from the masses, only for the bus driver to change his sign to NOT IN SERVICE and drive off. On Tuesday I waited for 55 minutes, and in the end had to get a taxi back. I logged an official complaint with the bus company who have said they will get back to me but still nothing. The timetable change does not explain why buses which are supposed to be at most 15 minutes apart can now take between 30-60 minutes to turn up.

  13. I stopped using the X73 two and a half years ago due to exactly these problems, which I am appalled to see are still occurring.

    I now use a combination of the train and walking further.

  14. It is going to be sometime before the NEW Metro Bus is in operation, but unfortunately it is not going to come past my way being down Brookway

    So it would be much appreciated if there could be a replacement service for the discontinued X74 which was a good service….PLEASE

  15. Sat 15 Oct – needed to get into the city centre for a birthday celebration. The 18.17 and 18.32 were no shows then 2 arrive at 19.10. Absolutely useless service together with diabolic information – bus was arriving in 11 mins, then changed to 40 mins, then “due”, then back to 40 mins. Did I get there in time. No!

  16. I can explain the Saturday evening problem. I was on a 73 from town. We turned off the Gloucester Road onto Filton Ave at about 16.55. It was 17.50 before we got to the Muller Road junction (a few hundred yards at the most). It was all down to vehicles parked by the Rovers ground. Nothing could pass in either direction. By the time me were able to move just about every bus on the 73 must have been stuck on that section of road, along with route 70/71.

    When we turned into Parkway Station (about 18.15), there were 2 other 73’s right behind us. Hence, there were no buses at Cribbs Causeway to form any service back into town, they were all stuck trying to get out of town.

    Bristol City Council, the Police and Bristol Rovers FC need to address the problem of traffic and parking around the Rovers ground on match days, or these problems are going to continue.

  17. Regarding traffic around Memorial Stadium – you should address your complaints to Bristol Green Party – without them Rovers would have moved to a more suitable site with decent parking and good public transport.

  18. Just written a letter to First Group and local council regarding the 73 service from Cribbs causeway to city centre. No buses arriving at Parkway between 7.04 and 7.40am meaning my daughter is late for school unless she catches the 7.04 getting her to school for 7.30am!! This service desperately needs reviewing.

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