Wednesday 6 November 2013

Wessex Three, Tee-hee! [snigger the first]

    fbb thanks Bristol blog reader Paul    
  for information that inspired this blog  

Rotala's Bristol area operation (branded Wessex) was originally focussed on a network for the University of the West of England (UWE) and a few tendered routes. These were always available to Joe Public but recently were renumbered into a "normal" series. The next development was of services of a more obviously competitive nature. Such was route 3.

This runs along the busy Gloucester Road where it offers a modicum of "interference" with First's 75 and 76. These run jointly every 5 minutes to Horfield where the 76 turns off, leaving the 75 to plough on via Filton and the Patchway Estate to Cribbs Causeway.
Filton at the bottom, Cribbs Causeway centre left.

The Wessex 3 is different at the end. After Gypsy Patch Lane (north of Filton, indicated by the little bus on the map below) ...
... it turns left down a road utterly absent from Traveline's route 75 map. We wouldn't expect Traveline to keep its graphics up to date, would we? The road is Hayes Way (dual carriageway above the blue grid number 60) ...
... which blasts its way across former industrial areas associated with the now-closed Filton airfield.

The new road is dual carriageway and runs around the edge of the new Charlton Hayes development for approximately one mile. The road has been built over the past ten months by Bovis Homes as part of planning permission from South Gloucestershire Council for the new housing development.
Not good bus territory, yet, BUT a speedier way to get to the Cribbs Causeway shopping "mall".

Wessex 3 runs every 15 minutes off-peak Monday to Friday and all day on Saturdays. There is no evening or Sunday service ... normally (?).
But Wessex journey times offer a considerable improvement on all First's services [Saturday times are shown].

 1   via Clifton Down and Westbury   44 min 

 2   via Clifton Down and Southmead   44 min  

 75   via Gloucester Road and Patchway   46 min  

 76   via Gloucester Road and Southmead   54 min 

 Wessex 3   via Gloucester Road and Hayes Way   37 min 

Despite First's revolutionary new fares structure (read again) Wessex is still cheaper for most cash fares and significantly so with smart-card discounts.

In Bristol The Centre (originally "The Tramway Centre"), the stop for Wessex 3 is on Colston Avenue (map top).

First's 75 is some distance away on Broad Quay (map bottom) ...
... so it is not practicable, from there at least, to jump on the first bus that turns up. But whilst waiting for the 75, you can go and have a  paddle in the fountains.
And, yes, it was once a quay that was very broad.
But, for the purposes of this blog, we will choose Wessex 3 and trot obediently to Colson Avenue Stop Cc and await our vehicle.
Whilst there, we may observe other Wessex routes; 12 to UWE via Gloucester Road and 15 to UWE via Clifton Down and Filton Avenue. These, of course, are "Wessex Red" routes for the university; our chosen service 3 is a Wessex Bristol service and on a different part of the web site. The Wessex Bristol buses are, of course painted red; whilst Wessex Red buses are painted ... erm ... red;
to avoid confusion.

Just to keep you on your toes, livery-wise, the Wessex Bristol (red) bus at the top of this blog, used to be a Wessex Red red bus ...
... but with measles.
And before that (or was it after that?) it was a red and black Wessex Red (red?) bus.

Anyay, we are at the Colston Avenue stop waiting for our service 3 and, to pass the time, we consult he timetable frame to check that we are in the right place.

And what a sight for sore eyes!

More sniggers tomorrow.

 Next bus blog : Thursday 7th November 


  1. Slight error, Mr FBB - the northbound 75 and 76 depart from the Centre stop Cb, which is just above the Cc you give for the Wessex 3. The stop down at the other end of the Centre is for southbound buses, heading for Hengrove Depot. I was down there this morning, where my wife left for Bedminster from there, and I headed up to Ca (the next one above Cb) to travel home.

  2. Thanks for the comment, BUT stop Ck IS the "Centre" time point for the 75 to Cribbs Causeway (according to both First and Transport Defunct); Cb is "just" a stop. The Bedminster stop is opposite Ck. Your stricture is, however, quite correct; I had not checked for stops in addition to the quoted timtable point. Bad house point!

  3. The Wessex 3 isn't as fiercely competitive as you may first think. Remember all the Orange Staff buses that used to run up and down Gloucester Road with nobody on? Well they now run just at peak time and are public services numbered 3A, 3B and 3X to suit the Orange (or should i say EE) staff. One understands that Orange still pay for staff to travel free on the services, thus it is being supported to an extent and the risk to the operator is lessened.