First boss reveals options for the 73 bus service in the MetroBus era

Photo of James Freeman speaking into a microphone.

Bus operator First Bristol says it intends to maintain Bradley Stoke’s 73 bus service at a “good level” following the planned launch of the M1 MetroBus service through the town in January 2019 and has asked local residents to share opinions on what they think would be the optimum route of the service between Aztec West and Parkway Station.

Speaking at a meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council’s Planning and Environment Committee on 22nd August, James Freeman, managing director of First Bristol, acknowledged that the introduction of the M1, which will run every 10 minutes down Bradley Stoke Way, will have an impact on the number of passengers using the existing 73 and X73 services.

He confirmed a statement previously reported in the Journal that the peak-hours-only X73 service, which runs down Brook Way, will be withdrawn.

In the short term, the main 73 service will be continued at a “good level”, with all buses continuing to serve Gloucester Road to the Centre and Temple Meads, but its frequency is likely to “come down a bit”, possibly to ‘every 20 minutes’ (rather than the present ‘every 15 minutes’).

Responding to concerns that passengers living close to the “western” route through Bradley Stoke (i.e. down Brook Way) might not find it easy to access the new MetroBus service running along Bradley Stoke Way, he hinted that the route of the 73 might be “slightly modified … possibly making it a bit straighter and running more to the west”.

Speaking of the timescale for introducing these changes, Mr Freeman insisted that it is now a “dead cert” that the M1 MetroBus service will start in January 2019 and he named 13th January as the currently projected launch date.

Responding to concerns that the vast majority of passengers on MetroBus will have transferred from existing services, Mr Freeman pointed to the already-running M3 Emersons Green service, which he said had “driven demand” and attracted 20 percent more passengers than predicted.

He noted that the recently introduced T1 Thornbury to Bristol service, which passes along Bradley Stoke Way and operates with a half-hour frequency using MetroBus-style vehicles, has been “quite well received”. However, he stressed that the new M1 service will offer similarly fast journey times to the city centre, operate at three times the frequency and run until at least 11pm.

Mr Freeman said that First would like to hear people’s views on the optimum route of the 73 between Aztec West and Parkway Station from January 2019. With legislation requiring operators to give 70 days’ formal notice of bus service introductions or alterations, they would like to have this feedback by the end of September. Details of how to respond will be made available on the town council and Journal websites as soon as it is available (see below).

Looking further ahead, he raised some interesting options for the route of the 73 service beyond Parkway Station (heading towards the city centre), namely:

  • All 73s continue unchanged past Parkway Station via the existing (slow) route to Bristol
  • All 73s go to Parkway then travel around the multi-story car park, past the Hunts Ground Road P&R site and onto the new Stoke Gifford By-Pass, then via the A4174, UWE and Stoke Lane onto the M32 and straight into Bristol
  • Every other 73 heading south goes via the slow route (as in option 1) and the next one goes via the fast route (as in option 2), i.e. a combination of options 1 and 2

Although there is, as yet, no date for this improvement, feedback on the options would also be welcomed within the same September timeframe.

Map showing Bradley Stoke bus routes: 73, X73 and M1 MetroBus.

Above: Map showing existing routes of the 73/X73 services through Bradley Stoke and Stoke Gifford plus the route of the planned new M1 MetroBus service (shown as a dotted line), which will travel along Bradley Stoke Way and the new Stoke Gifford By-Pass.

In his presentation to the town council, First Bristol boss James Freeman hinted at the possibility of “straightening” the route of the 73 so that it runs along the full length of Brook Way (like the current X73). In this scenario, it would no longer serve the “southern loop” of Webbs Wood Road and Baileys Court Road.

This article originally appeared in the September 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.


The email address for sending feedback to First on future route options for the 73 service is 

Feel free to copy your submitted feedback as a comment on this post.

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  1. Thanks for providing the First email contact for giving feedback

    Below is the email I have sent them:

    It is absolutely inconceivable that the new M1 will bypass Parkway station, the second most important train station at Bristol. This bus stop was planned in the original metro bus scheme, as M1 stop or as bus link with M1. With your new plans, there is no possibility at Parkway and you are forcing passengers to take the bus 73.

    Bus X73 was getting worse and worse since 4 years ago. You remove it from peak hours (07:30-09:00)(crazy! because is when is more useful!). Instead of increasing the frequency, you absolutely withdraw it. Now, you are planning to withdraw it completely. Crazy again.

    You are planning to decrease as well as the service 73. Usually is not on time, usually even is not showing up. I am afraid that in the future, every 20 minutes will means, will be a bus each hour sometimes.

    All these plans you are considering will impact absolutely negatively to Stoke Gifford/Bradley Stoke and will isolate this neighbourhood. People that want to live in here will have as the only option of travelling by car, which will impact in the already awful Bristol traffic. Or, of course, leave the neighbourhood, which is the option I am considering right now for your bad plans about public transport.

    People need a system that decreases their journeys, not only the bus time. There is no point in creating a quick metro bus system if the total journal time is increasing because you have to spend around 20 minutes walking to the bus stop and then take the bus (or several buses).

    Your (First) plans will have an awful impact in Bradley Stoke-Stoke Gifford neighbourhoods.


  2. The #73 bus is beyond ridiculous. I agree with Sara – it’s rarely on time and often doesn’t arrive at all. Not sure why I bothered buying a year’s ticket as I often have to revert to the car!

  3. I really hope that the bus 73 returns to the original route of going down the full length of Brookway, once the Metro 1 service
    starts in January, down a route nowhere near our side of Bradley Stoke as it will be a long walk to reach it.

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