Thursday 6 July 2017

First Bristol First and Wessex Wilts

Exterminate, Exterminate!
Remember Wessex Bus doing deals with the University of the West Of England to provide lots of lovely bus routes for their students and staff. This list features in the bowels of the current Wessex Bus web site.
The following changes to Wessex Star services in Bristol take place from Monday
11 Broadmead to UWE Bower Ashton via Anchor Road
This new service replaces the section of service 12 between the Centre and UWE at Bower Ashton.

11A Broadmead to UWE Bower Ashton via Cumberland Road
There is no change to the route but the timetable is amended.

12 UWE Frenchay Campus to the Centre
The route is revised so that it only serves UWE at Frenchay. The section of route that went to Bower Ashton is replaced by service 11. All journeys currently numbered 12C will instead be numbered 12. See note below about interworking with service 19.

13 UWE Frenchay Campus to the Centre via Fishponds
The daytime frequency of the 13 is increased to every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday.

14 UWE Frenchay Campus to the Centre via M32
The 14 is renumbered X14 and will operate more frequently throughout the day, and hourly through the night, making it the first 24 hour Wessex bus route.

19 UWE Frenchay Campus to the Centre via Redland
The timetable is amended and the daytime frequency slightly reduced. Late night journeys and a Sunday service are introduced.
An impressive network, but, unfortunately the note refers to September 2015 and none of these routes now operates. The "Star" name is still used for a couple of routes serving the University of Bath.

Then there was the spectacular onslaught on First's service 1 and 2.
We had The One ...
... up to every 7 minutes; which became The One and The One2 (as in the pic above) and finally reverted to and every 10 minutes frequency on just the one One. Instead of going all the way to Cribbs Causeway, the latest version turns at Westbuty-on-Trym.
According to Paul, our Bristol correspondent, this service ceases this week. The Wessex web site says so.

First's current 1/2 timetable misleadingly shows "every 12 minutes" ...
... when in fact it is every 12 minutes on each service, every 6 on the common sections. We may expect a reduction after Wessex have evaporated.

Competition has recently moved from the north-west of the city to the south, where First had launched new buses for their route 90.
This runs every 15 minutes with smart red fronted double deckers.
On 12th June, Wessex announced their competitive offering, a bus every 12 minutes Monday to Friday and every 15 on Saturday with nothing in the evenings or on Sundays.
"Special Offer" fares from First ...
... are matched (and bettered?) by Wessex.
Then came Round Two of the battle.

From 19th June First Bus increased the frequency of the 90 to "at least" every 10 minutes.
Followed quickly by Round Three.

On 26th June, just two weeks after Wessex started their 90 they registered a cancellation with the traffic commissioners to take place from 21st August. Farewell competition in Bristol?

Another wobble follows.

When First Bus withdrew their service 51 (also to the south of the city, Wessex stepped in to "Save the 51".
This was funded by Bristol City Council, so possibly it is they who saved the 51!
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “We were determined to do everything we could to restore and maintain essential transport connections, particularly to Broadwalk, so we are grateful to Wessex for working quickly with us and local councillors to come up with a suitable solution. There has understandably been a strong community reaction to the changed routes and axing of a vital community link."

This notice has appeared on the Wessex web site:-

Following the withdrawal of bus subsidy on the 51 Service we will be introducing a new fare structure.

Our £1 Single will be increased to £1.50, whilst our £2 single will remain the same, as a incentive to travel in both directions we have introduced a new flat fare return ticket at £2.50 which is available at any point of the route. Our £3 day ticket has also seen an increase to £3.50 standardising this across the Wessex Star Network.

To encourage multiple day travel our Week (£10) and Month (£35) tickets have remained the same price and we have kept our child fare the same.

But the company has also registered a "revised" timetable on the 51 from 28th August, although our man in Brizzle does not yet know the details. It is a safe bet that it will be a reduction of the present 15 minute frequency.

Then there are the 500s
Again the Wessex web site records the loss of many of these on re-tendering to C T Plus. 501 and 502 should not appear anyway, the map is out of date 
Service 505: The service will now operate half hourly daytime and hourly evenings between Long Ashton Park and Ride and Southmead Hospital. The service will be operated by CT Plus.

Service 506: The service will now terminate at Broadmead and no longer continue to the Create Centre. There will be a shuttle bus to connect with this service from the Create Centre until the commencement of the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads MetroBus service. The service will be operated by CT Plus.

Service 511: No changes to the service, however it will now be operated by CT Plus.

Service 512: No changes to the service, however it will now be operated by CT Plus.

Wessex no longer produce a map, but it appears hat 508, 513 and 514 remain with Wessex.

And what or who is CTPlus? It is the transport part of HCT group.

HCT Group is a social enterprise providing transport services and community services in London, Jersey, Guernsey ...
... Bristol 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.

The day must be drawing nearer when Bristol says goodbye to Wessex (a Rotala company) completely.

 Next Scotland blog : Friday 7th July 


  1. In addition the Bath University holiday service reduces on 17th July from 5 buses on the 17 every 15 mins to Twerton etc to a 3 bus service every 20 mins, but only over the section to Lower Oldfield Park (the 18 route but this time called UOB, which started as an express route in April.)

    HCT group took over Bristol Community Transport in 2011. They have a depot at Bedminster. At one time they had the contracts for the 902 and 904 Park and Ride routes.

  2. FBB is mistaken - Wessex do produce a map and it isn't the one that FBB has illustrated

    It is largely correct excepting that the 16 is still in situ and the 90 is not shown.

    Worth noting that whilst most of the UWE services have been withdrawn, some of these may yet return in September (e.g. X14)

  3. Thanks anon - I couldn't find it!

  4. Wow! 2 clicks on the main page and you couldn't find it!!

  5. And with Stagecoach rumoured to be opening a base in North Bristol (very near Wessex's former base), having taken over many S Glos contracts from Wessex a year ago, and taking over Bristol 77 from First in September, there is more competition for Wessex (and First)!

    1. Seems likely, Stagecoach's bigger budget = newer fleet, their fares tend to be cheaper and there are lots of Bristol commuters fed up with First. I would hope this is a proper depot, and I would wish them well if that is!

    2. Bristol's problems are rooted in the inadequacy of its road network to cope with the demands placed on it. First has addressed issues around fares and vehicle quality, but it cannot do anything about congestion causing delays and extended running times, or an excessive number of car parking spaces in the city. Stagecoach would fare no better.

    3. I'm no local, but surely all the companies can utilise the MetroBus improvements IE making the 73 express between Bristol Parkway and Bristol, allowing faster journeys but along a longer route. Possibly replacing the 75 through Patchway could then allow for a MetroBus X73 running along the new MetroBus route and the MetroBus 73 running via Patchway and Bradley Stoke?
      Or routing 75 services via Ashton Vale along the new MetroBus route then making more 76 services with some running as 76A replacing sections of the 75 no longer served? Or doing this with the 76 instead?
      See what I am saying, running non-MetroBus routes serving more areas outside the city before joining the faster route in? Of course some services would still be slow, but surely they can improve services where possible, particularly this new 73/X73 model?

  6. And First have won the Bristol Uni 16 contract (term times 24/7) from Wessex, it is to become their U1.

  7. Wessex ran their 506 service so unreliable than everyone gave up using it. If busses ran at all, they sailed past stops without even stopping. Good riddance.

  8. This is a great post- exactly reflecting my thoughts.I bought a 1 year pass from Wessex at the end of last year. At one time, I could have caught a 12, 19, 505 or a ONE2 to work. This list has gotten gradually smaller over this until now (or at least from next week) there will be no Wessex routes to get me where I need to go and a 3 month bus pass that is now of no worth to me at all. I think a refund is on the cards...

    (Having said that, with only a few days to go, CT Plus haven't published any details of their fares / pass options, so I foresee chaos for the first few days of operation...)