M1 MetroBus service temporarily suspended this weekend (3rd/4th September)

Photo of an M1 MetroBus vehicle.

The M1 MetroBus service, which links Bradley Stoke with Cribbs Causeway, Bristol city centre and south Bristol is to be temporarily suspended this weekend (3rd/4th September 2022) to allow an orderly transition to a new operator.

Since the M1 service was launched in January 2019, it has been run by Bristol Community Transport (BCT), albeit under contract from First West of England. This arrangement was created because, at the time, First said it had insufficient capacity at its own depots to accommodate the new fleet of 21 biogas-powered buses.

But BCT’s parent company HCT Group has this week announced that it is no longer able to run the M1 MetroBus service, along with a number of commercial bus services in the Bristol area, citing “multiple challenges” that the bus industry in general is currently facing.

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Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

The news is perhaps not unexpected as HCT Group has in recent weeks terminated commercial operations in London and Yorkshire, blaming difficult trading conditions and rising costs for the decisions.

A statement issued by Travelwest, a customer-facing arm of the West of England Combined Authority, said:

“HCT Group, which operates the M1 MetroBus service, has informed us that, regrettably, it will be unable to operate the service after Friday 2nd September. The future of the service, however, has been secured and operations will be transferred to First Bus, which will start operating the service from Monday 5th September to a slightly revised timetable.”

“We ask that passengers be aware that there may be disruptions to some late evening journeys on Friday 2nd September and that there will be no service on Saturday 3rd or Sunday 4th September due to the transfer of staff and buses.”

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A spokesperson for HCT Group said:

“It has been a privilege to serve the people of Bristol over the past decade and we are proud of the role we have played in the development of part of the MetroBus network, which has been critical to delivering great connections for people living and working in South Bristol to other parts of the city.”

“We are deeply saddened to have been forced to make the decision to cease operations as BCT, but multiple challenges such as the financial impact of the pandemic and the current surge in fuel and labour costs have left us with no alternative.”

Further information, including a link to the M1 MetroBus timetable effective from Monday 5th September: M1 and other bus services not operating 3rd and 4th September (Travelwest)

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Alternative services

First West of England has published a list of alternative services that passengers can use whilst the M1 MetroBus is temporarily suspended. For passengers in the Stokes, these are the 19, 73 and T1 services.

Table of bus routes and alternative routes.
Alternative bus services during the temporary suspension of the M1 MetroBus service on 3rd/4th September 2022.

For a mobile-friendly version of the above table, visit the original post on the First website.

The Travelwest post linked above includes a map of the routes offered by the alternative services and provides a journey planning tool.

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First Bus statement

UPDATE added 4th September 2022.

Press release from First West of England

First West of England is to take over the running of the M1 MetroBus service, which runs from Hengrove through to Cribbs Causeway, from Monday, 5th September.

The bus company has signed an agreement with Bristol Community Transport (BCT), after its parent HCT Group, one of the world’s leading transport social enterprises, announced that it would cease operation of the route due to multiple challenges such as the financial impact of the pandemic and the current surge in fuel and labour costs.

Staff from BCT, including drivers and head office staff, have been offered roles at First West of England.

Doug Claringbold, managing director at First West of England, said:

“The M1 service has played a vital role in connecting South Bristol to other areas across the city and therefore it’s crucial to ensure the continuity of this route, which has performed extremely strongly, with passenger numbers now at pre-Covid levels.”

“BCT has been very much behind the success of the route and we will ensure that we continue to provide a first class service to existing and new passengers. As we have been operating the buses on all other MetroBus routes and will be doing so on the new M4 service, we feel we are ideally placed to ensure that BCT’s legacy lives on.”

“We also look forward to welcoming BCT’s drivers and head office staff into the First West of England family.”

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