Posts Tagged ‘rapid transit’

M1 MetroBus: 15 months late, but finally running

Posted on Sunday 10th February 2019 at 8:55 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of the very first timetabled M1 MetroBus to enter Bradley Stoke arriving at the Patchway Brook southbound stop.

North Bristol’s long-awaited M1 MetroBus service finally launched on Sunday 6th January, around 15 months later than originally planned and 39 months after the start of what eventually turned out to be more than two years of highly disruptive roadworks to construct new bus lanes along Bradley Stoke Way.

The M1, the third and longest Bristol MetroBus route, connects Cribbs Causeway, Bradley Stoke, UWE, the city centre, Bedminster and Hengrove Park.

It is operated by Bristol Community Transport (BCT), under contract to First West of England, using a fleet of 21 biogas buses. Up to 60 new driver and support positions are said to have been created at BCT’s Bedminster depot.

To reflect the importance of the new service in supporting local communities, artwork featuring community groups and organisations based on the route features on the inside rear panels of the vehicles. These range from youth organisations such as Scouts, Army Cadets and theatre groups to services for the elderly and environmental charities, as well as landmark independent businesses.

Eight of the new buses were already liveried and on the road on launch day. The remaining 13 murals will be unveiled in the next coming weeks. Local groups that will be featured on the buses include Bradley Stoke Scouts, Bradley Stoke Active Lifestyle Centre, Bradley Stoke Cricket Club, Bradley Stoke Library and Safe Space.

Eight of the 21 groups featured are members of Bristol Community Transport, using their community minibuses. These groups will directly benefit from the operation of MetroBus as BCT will be using the proceeds to support their community transport services in the city.

More: "Driver route familiarity" an issue in first fortnight »

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MetroBus arrives but journey times disappoint

Posted on Friday 4th January 2019 at 5:55 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of the upper section of the MetroBus iPoint at the Willow Brook southbound stop.

BSJ editor Stephen Horton comments:

More than eight years after the Journal first reported on plans for a ‘bus rapid transit’ link between north Bristol and the city centre, it looks like we are finally at the point where services are about to begin.

Looking at the timetable that was available as we went to print, the ‘every ten minutes’ frequency on the M1 MetroBus route from 6am to midnight Monday to Friday certainly looks impressive. Add to that the flat fare of £2 for any single journey along the 17-mile route between Cribbs Causeway and Hengrove in south Bristol, or £4 for a day ticket valid on all First services in the Bristol zone, and it really does look like it could tempt more car drivers to make the switch to public transport. That is, if the operators BCT/First can actually run the service to the published timetable, which seems to have been a perennial problem in recent years.

But scratch beneath the surface and there are some strange anomalies and shortfalls to be found with the new M1 service. For example, when the planning application for the MetroBus infrastructure was submitted in 2014, it was estimated that the journey time between the Willow Brook Centre and Bristol city centre on MetroBus would be 26 minutes, a saving of 22 minutes compared to the existing 73 service. However, the recently published timetable for the M1 service shows typical journey times of 32 minutes off-peak and 37 minutes at peak times.

It also has to be born in mind that many people will have further to walk to a bus stop to catch the M1 as the route goes straight down Bradley Stoke Way and there are fewer stops, which further reduces the time saving.

Another question people will be asking is why is the M1 so much slower than the T1 Thornbury to Bristol service, introduced in May 2018, which makes the same journey in just 22 minutes (off-peak)? That is, when the buses actually turn up, as it has been plagued by unreliability issues attributed to driver shortages. (For fairness, it is noted that the T1 operates only half-hourly and not at all after around 7.30pm.)

A MetroBus spokesperson told us that the longer-than-anticipated M1 journey times reflect worsened traffic conditions since the planning application was prepared and pointed out that the M1 serves four stops in and around UWE before using the new bus-only junction on the M32, whereas the T1 heads straight for the M32 at junction 1.

Finally, it is noted that it will not be possible to travel between Bradley Stoke and Bristol Parkway Station using MetroBus, so passengers wishing to make that journey will still have to use the existing 73 service. Bizarrely, they will now have to allow more time for their trip as the frequency of the 73 is being reduced in the face of competition … from MetroBus!

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 6). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Post-print correction: In the first sentence “ten years” has been corrected to “eight years” (the fist post on this subject was made on 24th July 2009).

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M1 MetroBus service to start on 6th January

Posted on Wednesday 2nd January 2019 at 7:22 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo showing a line of M1 MetroBus vehicles at the BCT depot in Bedminster.

The M1 MetroBus service, the third and longest Bristol MetroBus route, connecting south Bristol, Bedminster, the city centre, UWE, Bradley Stoke and Cribbs Causeway, will launch on Sunday 6th January.

Bristol Community Transport, who will be operating the M1 service under contract to First West of England, has invested in a fleet of new buses running on biogas generated from food waste, farm waste and sewage – creating up to 60 new driver and support positions at their Bedminster depot. This represents the first major investment in biogas buses in the area and puts the West of England at the forefront of low emission bus operations powered by alternative sources.

The launch of M1 follows the successful introduction of routes M3 and M2 that were launched in May and September 2018, connecting Emersons Green and Lyde Green Park & Ride to the city centre and Long Ashton Park & Ride to the city centre respectively. Together, these routes have already carried over 600,000 customers.

Travel will be free all day on Sunday 6th January when the new fleet is unveiled. Subsequently, tickets will be available via the special iPoint machines that have already started appearing along the M1 route. As well as providing real-time ‘next bus’ information, they form an integral part of MetroBus’ ‘buy before you board’ strategy, enabling customers to buy tickets using contactless or chip & pin bank cards. Customers can also buy tickets using First’s mTicket smartphone app, and registered Travelwest smartcard users can buy tickets from the Travelwest website and load them onto their smartcard at an iPoint before using it on the bus. First’s standard range of tickets for their Bristol and West of England fare zones are also valid on all MetroBus services, as are concessionary passes.

MetroBus fares are simple and all tickets are ‘buy before you board’, for faster journeys. Single trips are £2.00 (£2.07 for an individual ticket via the First mTicket app) and a day ticket allowing unlimited travel is £4.

More: All the local bus service changes from 6th January »

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MetroBus installs last pieces of jigsaw prior to 6th January launch

Posted on Sunday 9th December 2018 at 9:47 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of the upper section of the MetroBus iPoint at the Willow Brook southbound stop.

The last remaining pieces of infrastructure for Bradley Stoke’s long-awaited M1 MetroBus service finally started to appear at stops along the route in mid-November, ahead of its planned launch on Sunday 6th January 2019.

As we went to press, three of the new iPoints (combined information display and ticket machines) had been installed – at the Patchway Brook and Willow Brook Centre southbound stops and the Great Meadow northbound stop, leaving five still to be fitted (or seven if you include the Aztec West stops on the A38). The missing shelter at the Great Meadow northbound stop was also in the process of being installed.

In late November, MetroBus invited applications from community groups, schools and organisations who wished to be featured on the rear inside panel of each of the 21 biogas vehicles serving the route. There was also a call out for local talent to perform on buses and at stops on the launch day, when travel on the M1 route will be free all day.

Bristol Community Transport, which will run the M1 service under contract to First, has invested in a fleet of new buses running on biogas generated from food waste, farm waste or sewage – creating up to 60 new driver and support positions at its Bedminster depot. A spokesperson commented that this represents the first major investment in biogas buses in the area and puts the West of England at the forefront of low emission bus operations powered by alternative sources.

Photo of the MetroBus iPoint at the Patchway Brook southbound stop.

MetroBus is a ‘buy before you board’ service. Tickets may be purchased on the First mTicket smartphone app or using a Travelwest smartcard (now known as Travelcard). Paper tickets may be purchased from iPoints using a credit or debit card (but not cash). Existing First paper tickets bought at Paypoint shops are also accepted on MetroBus, as are concessionary passes.

MetroBus tickets can be used equally on the First West of England network in Bristol and, vice versa, tickets bought on First services (including mTickets) can be used on MetroBus routes.

Following the introduction of a flat fare across the whole of First’s Bristol zone, any single journey on any section of the M1 route will cost £2, when purchasing a ticket from an iPoint or using a Travelcard. Packs of five tickets at £2 each are available on the mTicket phone app. Single tickets on the mTicket phone app cost £2.07. A day ticket – valid on MetroBus and First local bus services is £4.

Travelcards may be ordered online at travelwest.info or collected from the First Bristol travel shop. If you purchase a multi-journey or multi-day ticket at an iPoint, it will be provided on a Travelcard which can then be registered on the website.

More information and related links:

More: CCTV at MetroBus stops »

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