Posts Tagged ‘First Group’

Driver shortages blamed for T1 bus cancellations

Posted on Wednesday 10th October 2018 at 9:44 pm by SH (Editor)

A T1 bus at the Savages Wood southbound bus stop on Bradley Stoke Way.

An express bus service linking Bradley Stoke with Bristol city centre that was introduced in May and offers journey times as quick as 22mins has been suffering reliability issues during peak hours in recent months, which the operator is blaming on high levels of customer demand and a shortage of drivers.

First’s new Thornbury to Bristol T1 service travels straight down Bradley Stoke Way, stopping at all regular bus stops, as well as the new MetroBus stops. It then uses the new Stoke Gifford Transport Link (a.k.a. Stoke Gifford By-Pass) to reach the A4174 Ring Road where it turns left to access the M32 at J1.

Timetabled journey times in the morning peak are around 26mins, comparing very favourably to the 45mins on the X73 and 61mins on the 73. The off-peak journey time is 22mins, compared to 51mins on the 73.

Passenger comments on the new T1 service were initially very favourable, but it seems that it has since become a victim of its own success, with many readers reporting journeys being cancelled or buses being full by the time they reach Bradley Stoke during the morning peak.

First responded by “doubling up” the buses on two morning (inward) and two afternoon (outward) peak journeys from 2nd September on the stretch between Aztec West and Bristol. This arrangement sees two buses running on schedules separated by just two minutes, but comments on Twitter show that this has only been partly successful because some journeys are continuing to be cancelled.

Responding to a statement request from the Journal, a First West of England spokesperson said:

“Following the introduction of the T1, we have seen a big increase in the number of customers using this new service. We are addressing this by adding in extra resource where possible, sourced both internally and by subcontracting some T1 journeys to Bristol Community Transport, who also currently operate the U3 service and will, from January 2019, operate the MetroBus M1 service.”

More: First says "We are working hard to recruit new drivers…" »

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New express bus service to serve Bradley Stoke

Posted on Wednesday 23rd May 2018 at 9:29 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of a double decker bus in First Bus livery.

A new express bus service linking Bristol city centre with Thornbury is set to become the first regular service to make use of the new Stoke Gifford Transport Link (SGTL, a.k.a. Stoke Gifford By-Pass) and the new bus lanes on Bradley Stoke Way that have been created principally for MetroBus.

Commencing operation on Sunday 27th May, First’s new T1 service will operate every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and every 60 minutes Sunday / Public Holiday daytime.

Service T1 will start and terminate at Colston Street in Bristol city centre and will not stop in Bristol Bus Station. This means that customers from Thornbury and along the A38 (Thornbury to Aztec West) will benefit from direct access to and from the city centre, as opposed to Bristol Bus Station.

The route of Service T1 will be via the M32, A4174, Stoke Gifford Transport Link and Bradley Stoke Way to Aztec West, where the current Service 78/79 route will then be followed to Thornbury town centre.

During the day, service T1 journey times from Bristol City Centre to Thornbury town centre will be 45 minutes, providing a considerably quicker journey than at present.

Bradley Stoke residents will also be able to benefit from service T1, which can be accessed from all regular bus stops along Bradley Stoke Way, as well as the Willow Brook Centre.

Draft timetables seen by the Journal on the Traveline SW website show a journey time of just 26 minutes from the Willow Brook Centre to Bristol city centre in the middle of the day, increasing to 32 minutes during the morning peak. For travellers wishing to reach the city centre as quickly as possible, these journey times will make the T1 a very attractive alternative to the 73 and even the X73 (which also uses the M32 but takes a longer route through Stoke Gifford ‘village’ to reach it).

More: Service will use newest high-spec Euro VI double deckers »

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MetroBus roadworks causing delays of up to 75 minutes for 73 bus

Posted on Sunday 18th December 2016 at 7:05 pm by SH (Editor)

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

In a startling admission of the impact that the current MetroBus roadworks are having on bus services in the Bristol North Fringe, First Group has warned passengers travelling on its 73 route to expect delays of up to 75 minutes during the morning peak, meaning that a journey from north Bradley Stoke (Newleaze) to the city centre could potentially take around two-and-a-half hours.

A statement published by the operator on 21st November said:

“Lane closures in and around Aztec West and Bradley Stoke Way associated with MetroBus works are causing significant disruptions to services in and around the area.”

“Services 73, X73, 77, 78, 79 are severely disrupted during the peaks. Service 73 in particular is experiencing delays of up to 75 mins during the morning peak.”

Holding out little hope for an early resolution to the issue, the statement concluded by saying: “Completion [is] currently estimated as September 2017.”

The news, which only confirms what passengers have been reporting on social media for many months, comes on top of a catalogue of complaints about the reliability of evening X73 journeys returning from the city centre (detailed in a reader letter in our November magazine).

A further negative development seen since the closure of the nearside lane of Bradley Stoke Way on the approach to the Aztec West Roundabout on 14th November has been frequent reports of journeys on the 73 route being terminated short of their timetabled final destination (be that Cribbs Causeway or Temple Meads). This has seen buses coming from the city centre terminating at Parkway Station, the Willow Brook Centre or Aztec West and similarly (in the reverse order) for buses coming from Cribbs Causeway. On some occasions, the revised destination has been displayed on the bus signage, allowing passengers to decide if they wish to board a bus that will not take them to their desired destination. Other times, however, passengers have been unexpectedly told that the bus is terminating short of its advertised destination and told to get off the vehicle.

More: Passengers take to Twitter and Facebook to voice frustration »

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

Posted on Wednesday 21st September 2016 at 1:24 pm by SH (Editor)

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.

More: What passengers have been saying on social media »

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