Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Big Day In Bristol (1) ...

... And Elsewhere!
Sunday January 6th seems to be the date of choice for bus service changes. The revised networks in Northamptonshire all start on that day (although due to the paucity of Sunday services most will happen on the following Monday). Stagecoach is "tweaking" (?) in Basingstoke but fbb is keeping an eye on Bristol.
The final piece of the much maligned Metro is delivered. The services have appeared in reverse numerical order.

The First was M3 (GREEN), using the highly expensive buses only interchange on the M32 ...
... to serve the University of the West  of England then continuing through "green fields" to the developing Lyde Green area. The building on the hill is the Dower House.

The Dower House, Stoke Park is a building in Bristol, England. It is one Bristol's more prominent landmarks, set on Purdown, a hill above the M32 motorway on the main approach into the city, and painted yellow.

The house was built in 1553 by Sir Richard Berkeley. Rebuilt by Norborne Berkeley, 4th Baron Botetourt circa 1760, it eventually became used as a dower house by the Dukes of Beaufort at nearby Badminton House.

Its history in modern times has been diverse, but in 2004 is was converted into "highly desirable" apartments. The grounds are a public open space.

Next came the M2 (ORANGE), effectively a rerouting of the long-standing Long Ashton Park and Ride service. Huge amounts of money have been spent on a massive flyover ...
... and a really crackpot busway.  This only has guide rails on the straight bits  ...
... which means drivers have to slow down to leave the short guided bits, then slow down again to join the next chunk. Farcical.

The local press has just revealed yet another piece of almost laughable news about the M2 ...
...which, if it is true, begs the question; how do the other busways (Cambridge, Leigh in particular) manage?

In January (and running very late) M1 (PINK)  begins. It was featured in this week's First Bus staff newsletter with a picture ...
... and a brief announcement.

BCT? Bristol Community Transport?
Bristol Community Transport is Bristol's largest community transport operator and a part of leading transport social enterprise HCT Group. From our depot in Parson Street, Bedminster we help our community to get out and about - providing mainstream bus services, minibuses for community groups, Dial-a-Ride, community bus services, community car services and more. 

HCT Group? Hackney Community Transport which had rather a distinctive livery for its many London operations ...
... until Transport for London decreed that "red" meant "all read and no exceptions"- unless, of course, TfL want to make mega-bucks from all over advertising!
Here endeth the fbb grump of the day!

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.

It is beyond the wit of an ordinary mortal like the chubby one to understand who gets what out of this deal. As far as the public is concerned M1 is a First Bus route; the buses are in First's livery (poor, but dictated by the Metrobus "bosses") with their logo, although the obvious "brand" is "metrobus".
Whatever the practicalities and "politics" this is a First Bus route (as First won the contract to operate the whole network) but run for them by BCT.

Tomorrow we will look at the M1 (m1?) service itself and later, as information begins to dribble through to the bus-riding general public, at the implications for other routes in the M1 area. There are many consequent changes.

But, from January 6th you can ride "the long way round" from Hengrove Park to Cribbs Causeway for a modest £2.07 on your "contactless" bank card; £4 return on an all-day "rover"

Deep seasonal joy! (?)

But In Seaton ...
Also on Sunday January 6th, fbb and Mrs start a new project aimed at "older" people living in the various blocks of flats and warden assisted apartments along their local roads. It too has a distinctive brand!
A mixture of a Christian meeting (call it a "service" if you wish) with afternoon tea. Which is another reason, combined with Christmas Services at Church and family commitments, why blogging efforts may be curtailed! The engines will not take it cap'n!
Inevitably, longing for light, the light and warmth of spring, was a big feature of the midwinter pagan festivals which were sort-of adopted and adapted by Christianity as a result of the arbitrary choice of date for the celebration.

The Bible begins with Light (Genesis Chapter 1), as did the "big bang" version of our distant origin.
The Old Testament prophets "saw" the "light of God's Presence" occupy the Temple in Jerusalem ...
... and "saw" His "glory" depart when the people failed to obey and repent of their wrong doing. Isaiah prophesied that God would send his light TO the world. (famous Christmas reading!).

The Magi followed "a star", the light of God guiding them to Bethlehem.

John's Gospel begins, not with the Nativity, but with the "light" that the darkness of the world will never extinguish. And, later:-

Jesus spoke to the Pharisees again. “I am the light of the world,” he said. “Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.” (John Chapter 8 verse 12). Hence Holman Hunt's picture ...
... and the last book of the Bible reinforces the concept of God as eternal light.

The throne of God and of the Lamb (Jesus!) will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. There shall be no more night, and they will not need lamps or sunlight, because the Lord God will be their light, and they will rule as kings forever and ever.

Whether factual or philosophical, it sounds a jolly good deal.

And it begins at CHRISTmas ...

... which is why the fbbs display a gurt big star on the front of their palatial residence! Light's pagan "origins" can happily be replaced, at least in the mind of the bill-payer, by something far more meaningful.
 next Bristol blog : Wednesday 19th December 


  1. I know that Luton (and presumably this will apply to the other big Guided Busways) have specially converted Gritter/Snow Ploughs fitted with guidewheels to enable them to access the Busway (similarly with a recovery vehicle) provided by Luton BC (from their main vehicle depot which is alongside the Busway with an access gate). I suspect that due to the short length of the guided sections Bristol haven't bothered which we will probably find to be a mistake, at the least from a PR perspective that it doesn't look good if it doesn't operate regularly.

    If I remember correctly First were struggling to find parking for the extra buses for the M1 so utilising BCT's site gives them the space to provide the service and not lose control of such a high-profile service to another incomer who is more of a threat (HCT have made it clear they do not understand or are interested in purely commercial competitive networks). First get the fare income and the profile, BCT get a good regular & guaranteed income to provide vehicles to operate the services and the Council & public get a seemless network outwardly provided by the same provider.

  2. Where to start with FBB....

    When someone starts quoting stories from the Bristol Post, you know you're in trouble given the absence of impartial reporting from either BP or FBB. In short...

    The article referenced has not "just been revealed" - it dates from 7th December 2017 - yep, a full year ago! Then you have the stuff about First livery etc. It isn't - it's metrobus livery and First logos are conspicuous by their absence except on bus 36806 (which is dual branded with CT Plus logos). As for the reasons why, well it's pretty obvious. Depot space is a consideration and also it does allow Joe Public to believe that First don't have a monopoly (even if we know otherwise).

  3. CT Plus is not the only sub-contract service provider. Abus operate the X8 to Nailsea Monday to Friday for First. Why? I am not local, but I guess it is availability of buses, drivers, depot facilities, cash flow, business capital or any mixture of the above. The X8 Saturday service returned to First earlier in the year.

    The A1 airport service also uses the M2 part of the guided bus way plus the south Bristol link road, also built as part of the Metrobus project.

  4. That's an interesting question, I wonder what Metrobus do on the guided busway when it snows. Maybe the Volvos, Scanias and StreetLites have to fight their way through on the normal roads nearby?

    1. Snow is so rare in Bristol I doubt it'll be a big problem.

    2. Bristol? The Metrobus guided busway is in Crawley, surely?

  5. Snow may be rare now, but if snow comes this winter as '62 - '63, there will compacted snow/ice on roads and pavements until March next year. That was my experience as a Bristol student in those far-off days.....