MetroBus: Has the ‘no lay-bys’ policy backfired?

Photo showing bus chaos on Bradley Stoke Way, in the vicinity of Webbs Wood Roundabout.

The introduction of new bus routes (T1 and M1 MetroBus) through Bradley Stoke has actually worsened traffic congestion rather than relieved it, claim a number of readers commenting on the Journal’s Facebook page.

Responding to a reader who reported being held up by a convoy of three buses “halting at every stop” along Bradley Stoke Way to pick up or set down passengers, many people have blamed the lack of lay-bys at the newly created MetroBus stops for the problems.

An overall increase in traffic flow resulting from the opening of the Stoke Gifford By-Pass (created as part of the MetroBus project) seems to have exacerbated the problem by limiting opportunities for overtaking buses halted at stops, due to a lack of gaps in oncoming traffic.

Council planners say they are against having lay-bys at stops because buses find it difficult to re-enter the traffic flow when moving off. However, the policy seems to be backfiring as ‘rapid service’ MetroBuses, which only halt at selected stops, are themselves being held up by being unable to pass regular buses (73 and T1) halted at any stop along their route, including the non-MetroBus ones.

Responding to an enquiry from Bradley Stoke Town Council after the issue of tailbacks forming at the Savages Wood Roundabout stop had been raised by a town councillor, South Gloucestershire Council replied:

“The new bus stops that have been provided on Bradley Stoke Way for the MetroBus services have not been built with lay-bys. The reason for this is that when buses pull out of the traffic flow into bus lay-bys at bus stops, they often find it very difficult to pull back out onto the road as they have to wait for a gap in the traffic to do so. This can result in delays to bus services and unreliability.”

“Therefore, as MetroBus is designed to be a faster, more reliable public transport service, most new MetroBus stops have been built without lay-bys. It should be noted however, as MetroBus services require passengers to buy tickets before they board the bus, in order to reduce the time that the buses need to wait at the bus stops.”

“Providing high quality public transport services such as MetroBus should help to reduce future increases in traffic associated with the expected growth in housing and jobs, especially single occupancy car use.”

Selected reader comments from our Facebook page

JH: I agree. Had to wait at every stop down Bradley Stoke Way. What infuriates me even more is the buses not even using the bus lane!

SE: Totally agree. Long tail backs caused by poor forward thinking. They had long enough to create bus pull-ins!

VN: The room was/is there for bus lay-bys. Instead they created bus lanes that are used once every 15 mins or so. I now have to leave an extra 15 mins earlier each day just to arrive at work on time.

BS: The only way it would work as intended is to fully segregate the route. But of course that was too costly! Saving a minute between pinch points was never going to bring that big an improvement.

LM: People are always in such a rush these days, no patience. MetroBus is a good thing. Driving in cars is not!  Stop moaning!

EB: Solution – leave the car at home and catch the bus.

Read the full set of comments on the original Facebook post

Photo: Bus chaos on Bradley Stoke Way – A southbound M1 MetroBus attempts to pass a T1 bus that is halted at the Webbs Wood stop while a nortbound 73 bus is also halted at the northbound stop.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 24). 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.

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