Reprieve for X73 route but 73 frequency to drop to ‘every 20 mins’

A First West of England X73 bus at the Linden Drive stop in Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Bus operator First Bristol has granted a partial reprieve to the X73 peak-hours-only bus service, which it had previously stated would be withdrawn once the M1 MetroBus service starts in January 2019. However, as widely anticipated, Bradley Stoke’s current main bus service, the 73, will see its frequency reduced due to an expected drop in demand from passengers travelling to the city centre.

The announcements follow an informal public consultation during September, launched at the request of First’s managing director James Freeman, who attended a meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council in August to talk through some of the possible scenarios for current local bus services in the MetroBus era.

Two journeys a day in each direction will be retained on the X73 service, which operates along the full length of Brook Way , in contrast to the MetroBus route along Bradley Stoke Way.

In a statement released to the Journal, Mr Freeman said:

“We were delighted by the number of people who made time to respond to our request for views about what we should do the with the 73 service as well as the X73 after MetroBus route M1 is introduced on 6th January 2019.”

“The overwhelming response was that people wanted us to keep things as they are, albeit with a general acceptance that services would need to run at a lower frequency than at present.”

“I am therefore pleased to announce today that we will continue to operate service 73, but every 20 minutes after 6th January, following the present route in every detail.”

“Journeys on weekday evenings and Sundays will run broadly as now.”

“In addition, we have found additional resources to continue the X73 service with two rather than three journeys per day – at 0640 and 0805 from Aztec West, returning from the city centre at 1550 and 1725 on Mondays to Fridays.”

The reduction in the daytime frequency of the 73 means that it will have halved from the ‘every 10 minutes’ rate that was offered back in 2013, after the old 74 service was merged with the 73.

Eagle-eyed readers will note that the planned start date of the M1 has been brought forward by a week from the projected date of 13th January given back in August. Mr Freeman told the Journal that this is because First consider it important for the new arrangements to commence at the start of the UWE term.

As previously reported, the M1 service will be operated by Bristol Community Transport under contract to First.

MetroBus operators are required to provide a minimum frequency of service to all MetroBus stops on the routes that they serve. For the M1 route, which connects Cribbs Causeway with the city centre via Bradley Stoke and UWE, these are:

  • Six journeys per hour (i.e. every 10 minutes) between 6am and midnight Mondays to Saturdays
  • Three journeys per hour (i.e. every 20 minutes) on Sundays and bank holidays

A timetable for the M1 service has not yet been released, but it is expected that journey times between Bradley Stoke and the city centre will be similar to those of the recently introduced T1, which takes just 22 minutes at off-peak times. However, First points out that the T1 only runs ‘every 30 minutes’ and there is no service after around 7.30pm, so the M1 will provide the town’s main link with the city centre once it is operational.

Although work on the new bus lanes through Bradley Stoke was finally completed by December 2017 (having started back in September 2015), iPoint ticket and information machines have still not been installed at any of the new MetroBus stops. When we last heard from the MetroBus team, we were told that this work is scheduled to be carried out during the third week in November.

• For more information about MetroBus services, visit

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 10). 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.

POSTSCRIPT (17th November 2018)

Installation of iPoints in Bradley Stoke duly began on 15th November.

Photo of an iPoint being installed at the Willow Brook Centre southbound stop.

Photo: iPoint being installed at the Willow Brook Centre southbound stop.

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