Saturday 16 August 2014

Wessex may Grizzle with changes at Brizzle [3]

Wessex Red service 12 from the University of the West of England [UWE] is removed from Filton Avenue where First Bus have replaced it and its associated route 11 with a more frequent service. The new 12 runs via a new bus link road between the developing Cheswick Village and Romney Avenue.
The thick grey lines on the map below show the intended bus routes through the development.
Google Streetview only reveals what it was like before the link!
And, from a few yards back, the link under construction.
Note the Google-fuzzed signs to confuse the Nazi invaders.

Also going that way is First Bus' completely new route 72. But, umlike the 12 this service does not use Gloucester Road to enter the City. It runs west along Cranbrook Road and travels citywards via Blackboy Hill, Clifton Down and Whiteladies Road.
It runs every 20 minutes Monday to Friday, every 30 on Saturdays.

Now hang on in there. Does not Wessex Red run a service that way?
Sort of; but via Wellington Hill and Henleaze between Horfield and Blackboy Hill. Currently that runs every 20 minutes Monday to Friday.
So what changes are Wessex making here?

Quite a big one!
The 15 and its associated Sunday 15C via Bristol Zoo will cease due to "withdrawal of funding" according to the Wessex web site.

 First wins the battle of Clifton Down? 

Back one route to the Wessex 14.
This runs via the M32 every 20 minutes Mondays to Fridays ONLY; finishing in a loop in the city centre. According to the Wessex Google derived route maps (yuk!) buses disappear into a timewarp at The Haymarket and reappear Dr Who style at "The Centre".
Perhaps "do a loop" is a bit misleading as the buses arrive at "The Centre" one minute after the previous journey leaves ...
... so completing a trip round the loop involves an impractical wait of 19 minutes; perhaps in a parallel dimension. Scary?

First has started another brand new service, the X74.
This runs every 30 minutes Monday to SATURDAY (the student survey asked for more weekend buses) and with no loop, terminating topside of The Centre at Rupert Street.
Now, the really well informed of our readers will be leaping to their feet, pressing their University Challenge buzzers and shrieking, "What about Wessex 13?"

What about Wessex 13 indeed?
The current route serves Bradley Stoke ...
... at the moment, but from this timetable change that section is removed "due to withdrawal of funding". And, lo and behold, the Bradley Stoke route re-appears as part of First's new X74. The timetable leaflet map is less than helpful ...
... with no colour differentiation but fbb can promise you (he thinks) that it follows the same set of roads as Wessex' withdrawn 13.

 First gains Bradley Stoke; shares M32 

The core Wessex 13 bqtween UWE and Bristol city follows a convoluted route via St Matthias Campus ...
... and Fishponds. This shortened 13 increases from every 12 minutes to every 10. In some ways a little odd, as the St Matthias Campus closed last July! First Bus is not responding on this whole corridor as such, but frequent 48 and 49 services cover the Fishponds to Bristol centre roads.
The current 19 is largely unchanged and runs via Filton Avenue, Redland Station and Bristol University every 12 minutes.

 Wessex holds Fishponds and Redland 

One final twist to this convoluted tale.
Wessex Bristol (as opposed to Wessex Red for UWE) currently runs an hourly express service X27 via the M32 to Yate.
This is to be withdrawn completely. That leaves First's existing X46 as sole lord and master of the M32 to Yate service.

 First reigns supreme to Yate 

So what do we conclude from all this. As an outside observer, fbb sees a retrenchment by Wessex on the main UWE corridors with a dramatic increase in First's coverage. But a cynical observer cannot help thinking that this is all a bit too cosy and touchy-feely. There is certainly now more competition on routes to the Frenchay campus; but the resultant networks seem more complementary than confrontational.

And finally (and possibly a clue to these goings on?) Wessex have been called to a Public Enquiry; this, recently, from the local press.

An investigation was launched into one of the west’s biggest bus companies after authorities received more than 540 complaints from frustrated bus passengers. Wessex Connect is the second biggest operator in the former Avon after First Bus and operates a fleet of just under 130 buses.Traffic commissioner Sarah Bell is overseeing the inquiry and has the power to impose large fines and in extreme cases can take licences off transport companies.

fbb cannot find a record of the result of the enquiry, so far.

 Next musical (?) bus blog : Sunday 17th August 

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff!

    First's new 72 also serves as a convoluted replacement for part of their 20, which is being withdrawn at the end of August (but has nothing to do with UWE!).

    The withdrawal of both the 15 and the 20 leaves Wellington Hill West with no bus services. Until last April when the 505 was re routed it had 7 an hour in each direction!