Sunday, 8 July 2018

An Historic Double Decker In Bristol (3)

Whither Ashton Avenue Bridge 2018?
If you leave Bristol via the (old) A4, you can stay left and cross the easternmost lock gates instead of continuing to Avonmouth or Weston super Mud.
This smaller swing bridge would have led you up onto the Ashton Avenue bridge's road deck - but it does so no longer.

If you can find your way out of the current collection of slip roads, you can wiggle round to the "New Cut" side of the Bonded Warehouses ...
... and there, between the two, stands the celebrated Bristol double decker.
In 1951 it was welded shut, never to swing again. In 1965 it lost its road deck in favour of a new super-smashing swing bridge named after Samuel Plimsoll (1824 to 1898), he of the "Line" fame.
He was born in Bristol, hence the appropriateness of the bridge name.

The Plimsoll Bridge superseded both the Ashton Avenue road deck and the swingers at the eastern end of the locks. It opened in 1965 and came complete with an amazing collection of slip roads and twiddly bits.
Like its predecessor, it links Ashton Gate with Hotwells and the A4 to Avonmouth.
It is possible, with careful planning and even more careful navigation to travel round the two sets of bridges without escaping back to reality; possible but not recommended on sanity grounds.
The graceful centre span of the bridge is the large chunk that swings ...
... all overseen from a pretty little control tower.
When the fictional Charlie Barlow and John Watt (Stratford Johns and Frank Windsor) ...
... left Z Cars and Newtown (Kirkby, Merseyside), their new "patch" was a mythical "Wyvern", based loosely on Bristol, in a spin-off series called .... 
The opening captions featured the then very new Plimsoll Bridge but there is a lack of on-line evidence - nevertheless, fbb remembers it well. (possibly!). Barlow and Watt then moved to "Thamesford" (Medway Towns) and the series became Softly Softly Task Force.

Having lost its road, about 20 years later The Aashton Avenue bridge began to lose its goods trains. First it went single track seen here with an exploratory run from the Bristol Harbour (Preservation) Railway.
The second track became a footpath, then the remaining rails were removed and the former magnificence became sad decay.
But along came Metrobus and the M2 from Ashton Vale Park and Ride to the City. The route is due to open in January 2019 ...
... and will use Ashton Gate Bridge.
The whole jobbie has been superbly refurbished and looks as good as new. Because of the need to keep the footpath, the busway becomes "single track" over the bridge ...
... presumably with traffic signals to be erected.

Whilst the harbour railway trundles up and down its bit of track ...
... the former goods dept at Canons Marsh ...
... shows no evidence of its former railway use.
So let us give three hearty cheers for the Ashton Avenue Bridge - entering a new life as part of the Metrobus network.

How long will that last?

The new mayor of Bristol wants the Chinese to fund a network of Undergound Railways, clearly influenced by the latest APP ...

... The City's Avian Porcine Policy!

If You Thought Sheffield Was Dire ...
Northampton Correspondent Alan writes (in italics):-

Be assured that out here in the shire counties we can match any ineptitude perpetrated in the metropolis that is  South Yorksire.

Once upon a time in a county that, to protect the guilty, we will call N*rth*mpt*nsh*r*, the council’s website had two lists of bus routes, one in alphabetical order of company name and one in route number order.  From either  there was a direct link to a PDF copy of the relevant bus timetable.

It was an excellent and reliable facility.

Then the following appeared -

This page will be closed at the end of May as part of our move to a new website. Bus timetable information is available from operators - see a list on our bus timetables page.

There was, of course no practical reason why all the data could be moved over.

So all we have now is just a list in route number order and who runs it.
So, to find your timetable, you have to know what the route number is - there is no other index. Or you can slowly scroll down the whole list until you spot a destination which may be of use.

A member of the public (not, me) complained. These are the robotic replies he got.

Question - These have been taken off the NCC website. I can find no easy way now to navigate my way round bus timetables.

Answer - Our approach is now to maintain a list of services as a pdf, therefore advising passengers as to who operates each service.

Translation - Just because we are the local  transport authority you don’t really expect us to do anything, do you?

Question - I can be directed to the Stagecoach site but I seem to need a specific enquiry to extract any info.

Answer  - The Stagecoach website has a facility for stating which town you are travelling in. If you follow this then the service number relevant for that town can be entered.

Translation – an example of the fact that politicians think Sir Brian runs all the buses in Britain. Maybe you should go by car - it is much easier you know.

Question - Is there any way I can get an overview? There is a list of routes but no times are attached to it.

Answer  - No timetables are attached to the list of services pdf as our website provides links to all the operators’ websites, where information on more than timetables can be obtained, e.g. fares and travelcards.

Translation – you want easy access to timetables? But there is lots of other exciting stuff you can find that you don't want.

There is currently no link on the list of services page back to the list of operators page.

Question - Are there any plans to re-instate the timetables facility?

Answer - We are pleased to receive feedback but have no plans to re-instate the previous numerical list of bus timetable pdf’s.  

Translation – now go away and  stop being a nuisance.

Yet again - Beyond Belief


 Next Assorted blog : Monday 9th July 


  1. Will there be sufficient headroom for Metro Bus to run double deckers over the double deck bridge ?

  2. Yet again FBB shows his ignorance of local authority funding and how hard things really are. Beyond Belief!

  3. Petras 409: Yes. There's a picture of the biogas bus running tests on the guided section, though I can't find it at the moment (possibly on the Bristol Post website). I believe that full height buses couldn't clear it, whereas low height ones will.

    The Depot Cat: I agree, especially as the council also pays to contribute to the Traveline site, where most of this information can be found in exactly the same format. It's even mentioned at the foot of the page. However, please give praise to Northants for continuing to produce a "changes to bus services" update every month - this is a very useful facility that *all* councils should be compelled to provide (bearing in mind that they receive the registrations, there is no-one else that can do this for general public consumption).

    1. Biogas bus on Ashton Avenue bridge is here:

    2. Thanks Shieldsman. I thought it looked tight !

  4. About the money again. There is NO shortage of money - as with NHS etc. we simply need to be prepared to pay higher taxes. I am more than happy to do that if the money is "hypothecated" for the services where it is needed - not wasted on admin and posh offices! Problem solved. The current "economies" in public transport funding are negligible when compared with a typical local authority budget. It just happens to be easy politically to cut little bits of funding. Bus passengers are not "important" voters!
    Think how many bus services could be supported with the money that has been spent of the Bristol MetroBus project!