Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Bold Bus Branding - Or Is It? (1)

One That fbb missed?
Possibly because it hasn't quite happened yet! But first, some background.
Banes (more correctly BaNES) is the county of Bath and North East Somerset. It stretches from the delightfully named Nempnet Thrubwell (really!) in the west to Freshford in the east, and from Keynsham (spelt K E Y N S H A M!) in the north to Midsomer Norton in the south. (click on the map for a slightly larger map view)

Avon county, created in 1974, was formed from parts of the historic counties of Gloucestershire and Somerset, together with the City of Bristol. In 1996, the county was abolished and the area split between new unitary authorities: Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire.

But, to add to the confusion, the coastal bits to the west of BaNES are part of North Somerset, another and separate council. BaNES is under the diktat of the new Bristol "Metro-Mayor" (hooray?) but North Somerset and the important coastal commuter towns ...
... isn't. Seem potty to an outsider, but who can fathom the ways of those mysterious men in dusty basements who draw local authority boundaries?

Bit it is to the fiercely independent North Somerset that we must go to reveal a new block of First Bus branding; more correctly at this stage First bus route branding.

Under Bristol Tramways, later Bristol Buses, Badgerline ...

... and First, routes to the coastal towns were complex and tricky for an outsider to fathom. Thanks to the interwebnet, fbb has discovered a useful (?) list which he has simplified, for the time being.
Of course it was never quite as simple as the above. as our man in Bristol (Paul) says in his helpful email, "bus routes and their numbers are almost unfathomable"!
But in recent years things have slowly changed 

By the year 2000 (approx) 
Portishead - X2 and X3, 23 on Sundays,
Clevedon - 362, 363, 364 and X7
Weston-super-Mare - 350, 351, 352, 353 and X1

Paul has a point!

Next on the scene comes more X routes, new vehicles and the beginnings of rebranding ...
... encouraging us all to Express (Y)ourselves. By April this year First had created the following network.

X1 and X1A, the latter renumbered from W1, itself renumbered from 1
Weston super Mare

X3 and X4, the latter renumbered from X2

Weston super Mare to Cribbs Causeway

X6 and X6A

X8 and X9 (where Abus runs some X8s disguised as First!)
As an aside, Abus still shows the old timetable on its web site. Things have now changed.

X7 is used for the service from Bristol to Newport, South Wales which used to be X10, X11 and X14.

Apologies to Bristolians and Norther Somersetians if this is an incomplete picture. 

So what has changed?

From 30th April 2017 the list of Xs above becomes:-

X1 and X2, Weston super Mare

X3 and X4, Portishead
evening buses run as X3A

X5  Weston super Mare to Cribbs Causeway
no longer continues to Bristol Parkway station

X6 and X7, Clevedon
X7 is the old X6A extended via Congresbury to Weston super Mare

X8 and X9, Nailsea
Abus now runs journeys on the X9

The former Newport X7 ...
... is unnumbered and carries just the route name Severn Express.
Buses and publicity share the same dark blue and grey style ...
... with a powerful message.
The service runs hourly Monday to Saturday until 1745 (Chepstow only) ...
... with five trips on Sundays. The timetable index shows it as route number 7XP, Seve(r)n ExPress!
Back in North Somerset (virtually) we can see how a brand new brand is applied and provide a bit more detail about how the network works.

That is for tomorrow.
From Peter, our Hampshire correspondent.

Peter was impressed with some marketing from Stagecoach's SouthWest Trains.
The associated blurb caught his eye.
Peter comments, "even our enjoyment has gone metric!"

Another argument for Brexit?
 Next North Somerset blog : Wednesday 17th May 


  1. "but who can fathom the ways of those mysterious men in dusty basements who draw local authority boundaries?"

    Neither mysterious men or dusty basements. Each council in the area had to agree to the 'devolution' (of powers from Westminster) as part of the creation of the West of England Combined Authority (Weca). BaNES, Bristol and South Gloucestershire agreed, North Somerset declined, and is thus not covered.

  2. Of course, Avon also included what is now N Somerset. And post-Avon, the 4 authorities were known locally as Cuba (Counties that Used to Be Avon). So Cuba - N Somerset = Weca!

  3. Pfft... The UK went metric in *1965*. Anyone under the age of 57 has been taught under the metric system. Is it really that surprising people use the correct spelling...?

  4. Of course the Portishead services were still the 357/8/9 in 2000, the X2/3 didn't come along until about 2012.