MetroBus is GO! But still SEVEN MONTHS before it arrives in Bradley Stoke

Photo of a crowd of dignitaries standing in front of a MetroBus vehicle at the M3 Route launch event.

The first service on the Greater Bristol area’s new MetroBus network finally got under way at the end of May with the launch of the M3 Emersons Green to city centre route. However, it is likely to be at least another seven months before MetroBus begins operating in Bradley Stoke, according to a recent statement put out by the West of England councils and the MetroBus operators.

The M1 Cribbs Causeway to Hengrove route, which will link Bradley Stoke with UWE and Bristol city centre, was originally due to start operating in September 2017, immediately following the planned completion of the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (a.k.a. Stoke Gifford By-Pass). However, delays in construction of the by-pass and other road infrastructure on the route, combined with problems with the iPoint ticketing and information machines that will be installed at all MetroBus stops, have meant that the projected start date has been repeatedly pushed back.

Poster in MetroBus Shelter: "This bus stop is not currently in use by any bus service".The last start date given to the Journal (in January 2018) was “late summer”, although notices displayed at the new MetroBus stops in Bradley Stoke were more vague, stating only that services would “start in 2018” (see photo on right).

A statement put out by MetroBus on 15th May has now shared the “good news” that services on the M1 route will begin in January 2019. This means that the M1 route will be the last of the (now) three routes in the MetroBus network to commence operations, as the M2 Long Ashton Park & Ride route is now expected to start “in autumn” once issues with the problematic guided busway on part of the route have been resolved.

The M1 announcement came less than a month after the boss of the parent company of Bristol Community Transport, which will run the service, declined to predict a start date, telling the Journal he “didn’t want to give a timeline … as it would be a hostage to fortune”.

The other two MetroBus routes shown in the original funding bid submitted to the Department for Transport (and as recently as July 2017 in the MetroBus Quality Partnership Scheme document) have been quietly shelved. These include the route between Emerson Green and Parkway Station, which appears to have been absorbed into the second-phase Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension scheme, due to begin operating in 2022.

MetroBus ticket prices

Details of the MetroBus fare structure were revealed by operator First West of England at a launch event for the M3 route held at the Bristol & Bath Science Park on Friday 18th May. The M3 MetroBus will have its own (two) fare zones, distinct from the inner and outer zones that apply to First’s other services. The boundary between the two zones is at the new bus-only junction on the M32 at Stapleton. A single journey within one zone costs £1.50; across two zones it is £2.50. Unlimited travel for a day costs £4 (includes travel on MetroBus in both zones and all First buses in the regular Bristol inner zone). The Journal understands that the same zone and fare structure is planned for the M1 route.

MetroBus is a ‘buy before you board’ service. Tickets may be purchased on the First mTicket smartphone app or using a Travelwest smartcard. Paper tickets may be purchased from iPoints using a credit or debit card (but not cash). Existing First paper tickets bought via 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.

Speaking at the M3 launch event on 18th May, James Freeman, managing director of First West of England, said

“MetroBus combines low emissions, new customer-facing technologies and infrastructure on a massive scale. It will revolutionise public transport with faster journeys and a much higher standard in passenger experience. It provides the foundation on which we can build a public transport system fit for the future in the city region which is the powerhouse of the regional economy.”

• More information is available on the new MetroBus Bristol website.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 14 &15). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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