Saturday, 21 April 2018

Not Brizzle Metro ...

... But With MetroBus Implications!
North of Bristol is the village cum dormitory town off Thornbury.
It lies just off the A38, the main road between Gloucester and Bristol. The three main bus routes fork off left immediately after the Alveston House Hotel.
They are, currently, Stagecoach 77, First Bus 78 and First Bus 79. Of these, the Stagecoach service is tendered (and was once operated by First)  and the others are commercial.
Routes in and around Thornbury are one of the bus operators' dark arts as fbb explored in a couple of blogs back in February. Working out the route of the 77 was a real challenge!
It was resolved by reference to shepherd's crooks - how else! We shall not trouble our tired brains by a further examinations of the wonders of Thornbury, but readers with a taste for the challenge may wish to re-read the two blogs concerned (here) and (here).

If you are brave enough to read the blogs, you may not wish to see the timetable for the 77; but here it is.
Our interest today is with the routes out of Bristol. You might expect the 77 (from Bristol to Thornbury in South Gloucestershire) to appear on a Stagecoach map with a similar title.
But it is not there. We need to go to Traveline for something a little more helpful.
It runs through the greater Bradley Stoke conurbation, roughly parallel to Bradley Stoke Way which will be served by the new MetroBus route M1.

It also calls at Hortham, a new development built on the site of a now-demolished Mental Hospital.
First's 78 and 79 are really quite simple provided we ignore the Thonbury squiggles!
Each runs every hour, but the 78 delays itself by nipping off to the dreaded Cribbs Causeway ...
... giving a relatively simple leaflet presentation.
The timetable is, as you would expect, easy to follow.
But not for long will it remain in this form!

From the end of May, at the same time as First starts running its M3, and well before C T Plus (heavily disguised as First) starts running its M1 via Bradley Stoke, there is a big change to the bus service to Thornbury.

The 78 becomes the T2 but remains much the same.
Whoops, Traveline doesn't know yet - we will have to ask Traveline.
Yes that is right; Traveline (National) is ignorant of the T2 but Traveline South West has maps and timetables. Note that First is now serving Hortham (squiggle top right) in competition with Stagecoach 77 (?) and providing the estate with buses to Cribbs Causeway.

But it is the replacement for the hourly 79 that intrigues and excites. Readers will be amazed to learn that it becomes, with stunning but logical originality, service T1.
Whoops again.

But here's the big change; it will run via the M32 and the MetroBus M1 route through the Bradley Stoke estate ...
... then to Thornbury (NOT via Hortham) as before. It hops off the M32 and travels briefly via the A4174, turns right into the new Stoke Gifford by-pass road (calling for Harry Stoke as it does) ...
... and makes use of all the Metrobus M1 road improvements until it joins the Gloucester Road at Aztec West. It will also benefit from the inbound bus lane on the M32.

And it runs every 30 minutes!

Traveline present the T1 and T2 timetables as one.
The T2, you will notice, still uses the bus station; but the T1 runs from "The Centre" thus benefiting fully from the MetroBus improvements.

The T1 is obviously quicker (58 minutes as opposed to 67) but that hides the fact the it visits the "estates" first, so is faster than it appears for many passengers.

Our Bristol correspondent, Paul, who briefed fbb by email yesterday morning, is very impressed with the new service T1. It represents a major improvement for the residents of Thornbury but ...

What effect might it have on the new Metrobus M1? We will have to wait until the timetables are published but, on the surface, it does seem odd that First is happily pinching a bit of First's M1 revenue (Barbie takes all the financial risk and benefit - if any - C T Plus just runs the buses as a sub-contract) and the M1 will be pinching a bit of First's 73 revenue - maybe a lot.

Currently First's web site is T1 and T2 silent.

Expect some big changes early in 2019!

A Seaton Snippet
Herewith a board outside a cafe on Fore Street (Seaton's high street).
All day - but not after 1430.

Such is the small-seaside-town lifestyle.

The planned blog on Bristol Metrobus services M2 and M1 going south to Hengrove Park is postponed to next week, thanks, in part, to this extra information from Bristol. Appreciation due to our Bristol correspondent.

Correction and Revelation
Remember yesterday's blog where fbb said that he could not find any mention of the cancellation of the X48 from Lyde Green Park and Ride, a service which will largely be redundant when the M3 starts. In fact, as Paul explained, it is there, but listed under service 5 which is where anyone would look for the X48!

Service 5 (City Centre – Downend)

There are a number of changes to the route and timetable of Service 5 from 27 May 2018.

Service 5 will continue to operate every 30 minutes during the day and every 60 minutes during the evening, however, some departure times will be revised and intermediate running times are revised to improve reliability and punctuality.

The route of Service 5 will change between Oldbury Court and Downend, with Bromley Heath additionally served. This will provide Bromley Heath residents with a new direct service to Fishponds and Eastgate Centre. Also, Bromley Heath residents will now benefit from an evening and Sunday / Public Holiday service to and from the City Centre.

To make these improvements possible, two bus stops on Cleeve Hill will no longer be served by Service 5, but alternative stops are available on Overndale Road or at The Horseshoe. Service 5 will additionally serve Bromley Heath via Bromley Heath Road, Quaker’s Road, Queensholm Drive, Four Acre Road and Badminton Road.

Please note Service 5 will become the primary link between Bromley Heath and the City Centre following the withdrawal of Service X48 from 27 May 2018.
The map explains all. The 5 will continue from Overdale Road (lower left) via Bromley Heath Road to the Bromley Heath estate; here it replaces the X48. It will then turn south to terminate at the existing terminus at Downend. Bromley Heath is the only bit of the X48 not covered by any other bus route once the M3 starts.

fbb hopes to be in Bournemouth for a  brief look at the new route network with route numbers which replaces the former network with route names, numbers and letters which, in turn, replaced the earlier network with just route numbers. Consistency rules OK!

fbb plans to ride to Bearwood and back via 4a and 6 as per the map herewith.
There is  nice chppy next to the Bearwood Co-op terminus, so lunch is pre-planned.

Expect a report in a day or so.

For the late posting of yesterday's blog. Usual incompetence applies.

 Next Sunday Snippets blog : 22nd April 

Friday, 20 April 2018

Brizzle Metro Bloomin' Maddening (3)

First's Announcement
Thank to Anon for the above comment  on yesterday's blog. fbb could not ind any mention of the X48 (senior moment strikes again?) but the "withdrawal" of the frequent non-stop "UWE" ...

... appears to be part of a raft of reductions to the Uni's service marking the end of the academic year. Poor students having to work until the end of May!

Here is what First says:-

The first Metrobus route, Service m3 will commence operating from 27 May 2018 and will link the City Centre with Emersons Green via UWE every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday between approximately 0600 and 1900; between 1900 and 2100 buses will operate every 30 minutes. There will be no service on Sundays and Public Holidays until a comprehensive timetable will be introduced in September. Service m3 will be free of charge to use until 9 June 2018 to give people the opportunity to try the new Metrobus Service.

So this start-up service is only a "trial run"? Every 20 minutes seem poor for a service that might well have been a tram - and poor for a fully fledged Park and Ride if the X48 is withdrawn!

Service UWE will be withdrawn from 27 May 2018, which coincides with the end of the academic year at UWE.  Customers who would normally use Service UWE during the summer holidays will be able to use Metrobus Service m3 for travel between the City Centre and UWE.

And this map should have been part pf yesterday's blog (read again) but fbb did not have time to "ackle" it. It shows the M3 overlaid on the First Bus network map for the Emerson's Green area. (click on the map to enlarge it).
From the squiggle (lower left) it runs non-stop via the M32 to central Bristol.

The Mysteries of the M1
For the time being, we will examine the M1's northern trajectory, leaving the cross city bit to Hengrove for later. It helps keep fbb's brain clear of confusing cloggage,

Starting from Cribbs Causeway shopping and entertainment area (zowie!), it travels north-west to Aztec West, where the chocolate bars DON'T come from.
Along Highwood Road and Gloucester Road it joins the existing 73 ...
... and has garnered about itself extra lengths of bus lane. We are reminded in the publicity that these new bus lanes will also help other services along the MetroBus route.

The 73 wiggles snake-like through the estates of Bradley Stoke ...
...whereas the M1 sticks like flies to flypaper to the main road, Bradley Stoke Way.
Embryo MetroBus stops have even appeared on Streetview ...
... but sections of the road are decidedly short on potential bus passengers!
The M3 eventually reaches the end of Bradley Stoke Way, at least where it used to end.
 The continuation appears on maps as the Stoke Gifford by pass ...
... where a link to Parkway Station was planned but, despite bus stops for MetroBus in the station area, has been dropped from the plans. The MetroBus people say, effectively, that it is all too difficult. It seem strange hat such an important and innovative public transport concept should fail to serve one of the major rail stations in Bristol.
As we shall see tomorrow MetroBus doesn't serve Temple Meads very well either!

But the bottom end of Bradley Stoke Way, linking to Filton Road, is incomplete on the dreaded Google. It goes straight on here where local road, Oxleigh Way veers left.
Presumably it is now all finished - or will be before the M1 starts!

Somewhere here will be the stop named in memory of a "gentleman of the road" who has sat on his bench patiently, day and night since 2006, waiting for the delayed MetroBus to start.
Genial Harry Stoke, a bit of a South Gloucestershire "character". will give up his vigil once the first service M1 calls at "his" stop.
Not really, sadly.

There were three manors in the parish of Stoke Gifford. The Giffards and Berkeleys held Stoke and Walls. Harry Stoke was a separate manor held by Aldred in Saxon times, Theobald in Norman times and the Blount and De Filton families in medieval times. The Berkeleys bought it in the l6th century.

One of the last coal mines in the Bristol Coalfield was the Harry Stoke drift mine.
Don't try looking for the mine on a map or in the real world. It is lost under the vast MOD office complex at Abbey Wood.
Back to the M1 (bus not road). A new junction with the Filton Road ... 
... will allow the M1 to turn right, then slide off left to join the M3 via UWE and the M32.

But here's a funny thing.

Although the MetroBus contract was won by First Bus, the M1 will not be operated by First Bus. But no-one will ever know!!

For reasons which are not entirely clear, First have subcontracted the M1 to CT Plus.

HCT Group is a social enterprise providing transport services and community services in Bristol, Guernsey, Jersey, London and Yorkshire. It was founded in 1982 as Hackney Community Transport in the London Borough of Hackney to provide transport services for local voluntary organisations, charities and community groups. HCT Group is registered as a company limited by guarantee (and has therefore no shareholders). The company is also a registered charity.

The HCT Group was founded in 1982 and in 2014 had a fleet of 500 vehicles and a turnover of £43.7m and employs over 700 people. In June 2011 it reinvested 37% of annual profits into local community services, its best performance to date. Its chief executive, Dai Powell, joined the social enterprise as a bus cleaner.

CT Plus is the brand for its bus service operations ...
... but in Bristol it is BCT, Bristol Community Transport.
We provide four regular bus routes in Bristol, under a contract with Bristol City Council.

Route 505 runs from Long Ashton Park and Ride to Southmead Hospital
Route 506 runs from Broadmead to Southmead Hospital.

Both routes, which operate with single deck vehicles, are designed to better connect the hospital with the community.

Over the short term, we are also running the 506 shuttle - a free shuttle service from Harbour Create Centre to Broadweir, running every 30 minutes.  

Route 511 runs from Bedminster to Hengrove.
Route 512 runs from Broadmead to Bedminster.

These two routes, which operate on smaller minibus-style vehicles, aim to connect less well served parts of the city.

BCT will provide Biogas powered buses, drivers and all operational "stuff" for the cross-city route but, fbb is informed, the vehicles will be in the same livery style as those of First Bus and will carry First's logo and name.

Here various glitterati of the Bristol bus scene are pictured at the press "do" which announced this deal.
The BCT buses will have magenta "bits" as part of their dull and uninspiring version of the livery, to match the colours on publicity. Orange (as above) is for the much delayed M2 which will feature in tomorrow's blog.

 Next MetroBus blog : Saturday 21st April 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Brizzle Metro Bloomin' Maddening (2)

Hold on to your hats! First Bristol, contracted to operate the MetroBus "network" will be starting route M3 on Tuesday 29th May (Monday 28th is the Spring Bank Holiday).

What is "Bloomin' Maddening" for fbb is that the MetroBus "network" is shown on a stylised diagram whilst First Bus have a nice geographical network map. Putting the two together is tricky in the extreme and fbb can only apologise to Bristolians if he hasn't quite grasped the ideal.**

M3 runs from Emersons Green (GREEN) to the city centre.
fbb thinks it starts at the terminus of the existing routes 48 and 49 at Sainsburys.
There are three 48s and three 49s each hour ...
... which operate via Fishponds where No 1 son used to live before moving to Wantage. The 48/9 is supplemented by three 48As which nip off to the University of the West of England (UWE) where No 1 son was further educated!
Also there is the relatively new X48 continuing from Sainsburys to Lyde Green Park and Ride and the Bristol and Bath Science Park.
The M3 also runs via the Park and Ride (seen under construction in Streetview) ...
... and the developing Science Park.
Will the X48 disappear when the M3 starts?

The M3 then uses the fast and busy A4174, which becomes Filton Road, before peeling off left to call at the UWE campus.
Here it will join the M1 (MAGENTA) of which more in due course.
The stop names are beautiful - who wouldn't want to catch a bus to Willy Wicket? - but Buses magazine ** points out their limitations.

The northern fringe of the city has sprung up since the 1980s, and has road layouts typical of the era. The partnership explains that the routes have been designed with an eye to the future, so what is currently green field may become more housing in due course. What this means in practice is that lot of stops are on dual carriageways, with poor pedestrian access.

At one location where each stop is either side of a roundabout, there are four separate traffic signal controlled crossings separating the two stops. In other places, houses turn their back to the road, and there is a distinct absence of footpaths to reach the stops.

This is the Hambrook stop, under construction ...
... also showing part of the extensive bus lane along the A4174.

South of the UWE campus the bus uses Stoke Lane which has had to widened to accommodate an in-bound bus lane. Google maps shows the work in progress.
A bit of substantial cvil engineering has been necessary to pinch enough room for the extra lane ...
... and as we descent to cross the M32, we meet a 48A on its way to the campus.
Looking back up the motorway we see the biggie! A whole new buses only junction ...
... ha been built to get the M1 and M3 quickly on the the fast (? except at morning peak?) road into the centre. After crossing the Stoke Lane bridge, buses turn left along a new chunk of road built through Stapleton allotments ...
... seen here also under construction, courtesy of Google Streetview.
The new junction is roughly where the M32 blob is.

Land in Bristol that was occupied by tree protesters for six weeks has now been cleared for work on preparations for the city's Metrobus route.
The activists were evicted from Stapleton allotments last week. They say the scheme will destroy wildlife habitat and agricultural land but Mayor George Ferguson says he's looking at ways of minimising its impact.
Last updated Fri 20 Mar 2015

From here the M3 has oodles of bus lane to take it to then end of the M32, then via its continuation, the A4032 to the inner ring road at Cabot Circus.
The M3 will run anti clockwise to terminate at "The Centre" which isn't the centre of Bristol but was known as "The Tramway Centre" because all the trams terminated there.
** Notes to this blog:-

ideal - Bristol folk are wont to add an extra letter l (for love) to words ending in "a". Hence "The MetroBus is a very good ideal."

Buses - the May 2018 edition ...
...contains loads of good stuff, including an excellent overview of the whole MetroBus project. Worth £4.70 of any blog reader's money!!

 Next MetroBus blog : Friday 20th April