Tuesday 13 November 2018

Dramatic Events In Bristol - No 1

A change from advertised ...

Last Friday's Bristol Post carried a stark headline ...
... with a detailed analysis of the recent problems that First has been facing. The article was accompanied by "on the spot" reports by Post reporters plus a selection of pictures.
One illustration was a short video of a number 75 bus whizzing past a stop full of frustrated customers.
There is no reason to doubt that the reports were real and the problems are huge, although quite how the company can find itself 150 drivers short of full strength is less clear. Likewise, if there is a staff shortage one could ask whether it was wise to introduce the developments that have been an encouraging feature of the Bristol scene over the past few months.

Nevertheless, the reporting was fair, and boss James Freeman's contrite apology for his company's failings was both magnanimous and well received.

But The Post was also ready to challenge local politicians to take action on the appalling traffic congestion in the city. Not long ago the "excuse" was the road works associated with Metrobus, accompanied by an attitude of "it will be all right when it is finished."

Well, it is finished and it isn't all right.

One particular bête noir is the Temple Gate roundabout. The paper showed a stock picture of the roadworks sign ...
... which implies it should be finished about now.

All together now, "OH NO IT ISN'T!!"

The latest Travel West web site's prognostication says :-

Ongoing Restrictions and changes to access. Work on the Temple Gate scheme will run from 26 June 2017 until Autumn 2019.

In another article, The Post reports that boss James spent a shift driving one of his own buses, passing through the Temple Gate system on several occasions. Fortunately his actual description was not printed, but there was no doubt that the boss understands his staff's problems and frustrations.

So what is causing this grief. The Temple Gate area was once the site of Bristol's celebrated "Meccano" re-usable flyover.
The route taken by that contraption will cease to exist when the new scheme is finished.

Here is the current road layout map and aerial view.
The chunk of road between Redcliffe Way and the roundabout ceases to exist. Here is a CGI of thre new scheme.
A large paved area replaces the bit that used to carry the flyover. the main Temple Gate roundabout then becomes a traffic light controlled crosswords. Below is the essence of the new scheme.
We were told that once the roadworks were complete, inbound Metrobus services would call at Temple Meads Station. The stop is shown with a grey bus centre left above. Closer to the station than now, but hardly actually "serving".
Existing bus stops are at the foot of a long station approach but the new Metrobus will call at a layby and shelter well beyond the cream coloured building past the tree; much further away.

And what of the existing stops (above left)? They will be removed and be sited elsewhere.

Will they share the Metrobus layby? Or will they be even further away from the station; say at "New Shelter" on Victoria Street?
The other question, of course, is will it work? Anti clockwise ring road traffic will have an extra set of lights near the station approach; and the exit from the former roundabout past the station will be slower.

Will this scheme merely more the congestion to somewhere else? That is what usually happens.

First Bus, and, encouragingly, the Bristol Post want to see some more imaginative and far reaching solutions to Bristol's horrendous traffic problems.

Trams, anyone?

Oh, yes, fbb nearly forgot. The Metrobus "network" was chosen as cheaper than a tram system and; look what that money bought for the Bristolians.

A pathetic, potty, pricey and pointless partly guided busway Park and Ride and an expensive buses only motorway junction which is banned to all but a few of the buses that might wish to use it.

Metrobus may be cheaper than a tram, but value for money it certainly isn't.

But partly hidden to the parts of the media (and to outside observers?) is another dramatic change to public transport in Bristol which took place last Sunday, 11th November.

Preparation For Winter?
Each year we are told that the railways in the UK are better prepared for the ravages of winter weather than ever before - but each year things happen in the meteorological world that come as a great surprise to railway managers.

An advertisement popped through fbb's electronic letterbox recently for one of these.
A reduction of about ⅓ on the list price seems a real bargain and an ideal preparation if things are as bad in fbb's backyard as they were last winter.
Or maybe not!
The loco is a Dean Goods, named after its designer William Dean.

The Great Western Railway (GWR) 2301 Class or Dean Goods Class is a class of British 0-6-0 steam locomotives. Swindon railway works built 260 of these goods locomotives between 1883 and 1899 to a design of William Dean.

The snow plough is a real accurate model although it does look a bit fake on the model and in real life.
Still too expensive for fbb!

 Next bus fares blog : Tuesday 14th November 


  1. When we got stuck in said appalling traffic last week, we were travelling to the DoubleTree Hilton hotel (on the left of the map). This meant coming down the road from the M32 (top of map), continuing past Temple Gate and off the bottom right of the map, GOING ALL THE WAY ROUND the next roundabout, coming back to Temple Gate and then veering left along Redcliffe Way. The route is infested with feed-ins, traffic lights and lane closures. It is simply shocking.

    1. Quite agree. We were in Bristol in September, and travelled by car as the train fares (inward Friday PM - homeward Sunday PM) were excruciating, so much so that a 250 mile round trip AND overnight parking at £22 per night was cheaper.

      I'm sure it'll all be fabulous when it's finished (!!!), but for now it's a disaster!

    2. Of course it would help if Bristol had a decent suburban rail network ...

  2. For decades I have believed Bristol is highly over rated. Apart from the odd bits, I see it as a concrete, polluted dump. The derelict sorting office by the tracks at Temple Meads station perfectly illustrates the point.

    1. Rather disagree! The City Centre is pleasant to shop in, and down by the Docks they've made strenuous efforts to smarten the place up; the SS Great Britain in particular is very impressive.
      There's still some way to go, certainly, but the traffic chaos around Temple Meads (and continuing until 2019) isn't helping. I don't envy First Bristol at all, but James Freeman is the man for the job if anyone is!!

  3. Apparently Bristol is too successful as the only city outside London, which makes a positive contribution to the UK's GDP.

    The Temple Gate road works are plagued by the usual brown field redevelopment issues; live but un-mapped utilities, cellars of previous housing, etc. An extra need is to incorporate a new district heating system, whilst the road is dug up!

    A better suburban railway is requested, but Network Rail keeps putting the price up. However the northern approach is currently being widened from 2 to 4 tracks. Once all the signalling is replaced the old signal box can be demolished and tracks laid into the original terminus building, if still required. Then may be the electrification will happen, the Portishead branch, etc.

    The main airport bus A1 now uses the guided busway and the South Bristol link road. These are all part of the wider Metrobus project.

  4. On Railway improvements both Great Western and Cross country had planned to double some frequencies into Bristol in December, but due to the May timetable fiasco and late running track improvements they are delayed until next May.