Monday, 14 January 2019

A Ride on the M1 (1)

It has changed a bit since 1959!! But this is a different M1, Bristol's metrobus M1 which started on Sunday 6th January making Saturday 12th the first Saturday of operation.

And creaky old fbb was there!

0656 Axminster
0742 Exeter St Davids

A quick (?) sprint across the footbridge to join the 0745 Cross Country to Brizzle in the Drizzle. An unadvertised connection; and another good reason for using timetables, not journey planners. Of course fbb was prepared for the connection to fail, but it usually doesn't.

0745 Exeter St Davids
0849 Bristol Temple Meads
Four cars-worth of Cross Country's finest (!), lightly loaded with no trolley as the "operative had called in sick".

On arrival, plenty of time to enjoy (?) the appallingly bad publicity for buses in the station.
There are directions, once outside the concourse, to buses which leave from the approach road (8/9, 73, Airport Flyer) but no guidance as to what or where stops might be on the main road, Temple Gate. What is needed is a local Temple Meads map and a full set of leaflets in the rack.

People might think of using the bus - but that would never do, would it?

Despite this lack of help, fbb found the stop and was, frankly, impressed; well impressed a bit.
There were plenty of real seats, not those awful bum-bending perch things, and the departure lists we re clear and fresh and, more importantly up-to-date. As we come to expect, there was no network map and no timetables although there were two big frames which could have been used. As a minimum, the "country" services should show a full timetable, even if a frequency guide is OK for busy city routes.

There was an electronic display which only showed three departures, with a fourth alternating in position 3; not enough for a busy stop.
fbb has never understood why these things are in "time" order. Surely they should show every route that stops there in route number order with the next available departure/departures alongside each. Much more useful.

fbb wanted the 0918 service 92 to Rookery Farm, replacement for the 50 and the withdrawn service 2A. He intended to join the M1 at Hengrove Park, its southern terminus.
fbb was impressed that all the 91s and 92s that he saw were in the correct livery, adapted from that borne by predecessor routes 50 and 51.
fbb guesses that they are the same vehicles with a new bit of sticky-backed plastic covering the expired detail. Well done First!

As you would expect, the outward journey at 0918 on a Saturday morning was lightly loaded and fbb enjoyed a solo top deck front comfy seat.

What was less enjoyable, however, was the poor state of the bus stop flags. Presumably the bus companies have abandoned their obvious responsibility to present themselves favourably and chickened out by allowing Travelwest (a "consortium") to not do it properly.

The flag at the Temple Meads stop ...
... had not been updated; and round the route all others were in poor condition with faded and out-of-date route numbers.
The above was one of the better ones.

As fbb enjoyed the gyrations round the various estates at Whitchurch and Rookery Farm ...
... (which are far more confusing than they appear on the map!) he suddenly realised that he had made a ghastly mistake. His aim was to ride to the South Bristol Community Hospital ...
...and join the M1 at its southern terminus.

But the 92 does not go there all the time! It is extended off peak on Monday to Friday ...
... presumably to get outpatients to the hospital. There are a few journeys on Saturday (but NOT fbb's!) ...
... and none on Sundays; which makes the route map on the otherwise excellent leaflet ...
...  a little misleading.
fbb offers an alternative presentation, but the extended 92 is actually quite difficult to explain.
But fbb was turfed out at the Belland Drive terminus ...
... facing a lengthy stroll in the drizzle along Whitchurch Lane. But, awaked by the murk, he did manage to get his brain back into its usual slick efficiency (??) and realised that just across the greenery behind the trees ...
... is the road called Bamfield - and along Bamfield runs the M1 on its way to/from the hospital - fbb did not need to endure the drizzle, he could catch a bus!

So to your chubby blogger's first encounter with a Metrobus M1 stop out "in the sticks".
Damp weather - damp squib.
The stop is called Paddock Gardens (the side road is called Paddock Garden) ...
... and it is the last stop before the terminus. There is no Monolith, so no real time information and no means of buying a ticket; possibly understandable if you are only looking at the M1 and single journeys. The ticket purchase can be resolved by crossing the road ...
... where two rookie Rookery residents were doing some on-the-job self education in the black arts of off-bus ticketing. They missed the next bus! The M3 to Emersons Green has Monoliths at EVERY stop.

For the record, there is another bus that uses Bamfield and calls at Paddock Garden(s).
The 515 is operated by Bristol Community Transport ...
... ironically the same outfit that is running the M1 under contract to First Bus.  The 515 will also feature in tomorrow's blog!

So fbb boards his very first pink-bits bus for the short ride to the terminus. After a long-ish trek on the 92, there was a growing need for a PNB - and, at just after 1000, surely it was time for coffee?

 Next M1 blog : Tuesday 15th January 


  1. Andrew Kleissner14 January 2019 at 07:20

    I thought that bus stop flags were maintained by local Councils rather than the bus companies? They certainly were in Ipswich where I used to live and I think they are in Cardiff where I am now.

    1. It varies across the country as to who does what but more and more cities and taking the responsibility in-house and since they own the infrastructure the flags are attached to (whether poll or simple streetlight) they can do what they want. Actual quality is patchy and some are clearly not resourced but operators rarely get a say in what is done or how. Unfortunately for FBBs utopian view the only customer facing thing that most bus operators actually own and control is the bus itself (though as many have noted over the years some are poor at looking after that) he rest is accessed with permission of a third party and you are left at the whims of their intentions/delusions or prejudices.

  2. We are told that iPoints will be at every metrobus stop by the end of the month. A cynic might ask which month...

  3. The rack at Temple Meads has always been well-filled on my (admittedly few) journeys through there. Given ample warning of FBB's arrival over the last week, maybe some wag emptied it (or failed to refill it) so he would have something to moan about?

    As for stops, FBB has been told before, by people who work in the industry, that they are rarely bus company property. But then FBB encourages vandalism-in-the-name-of-advertising, and we go around in circles.

    As for next stop departure times, I imagine that is because for sections of route, multiple routes can be used... far easier to see what is coming first than look through ample route numbers, especially at a location like Temple Gate.

  4. LWBM is correct that it has previously been said that bus stop flags tend not to be the property of bus companies these days. In Essex, and no doubt other places, the County Council bought them all at deregulation in order to ensure that all operators would be treated equally. Unfortunately the council no longer maintain them on a regular basis but the operators are not allowed to update them. In my area this has resulted in services still being shown that were actually withdrawn ten years ago.

  5. The M1 is basically just a slightly faster bus with zero additional bus priority compared to normal buses except the motorway slip. Seriously unimpressive. More interesting is that First are competing with themselves to the airport. The A2 single deck via the faster old route every 30 minutes is £4.50 single or £7 return, whereas the A1 via the slower busway is now a ridiculous £8 single and £13 return. My guess is the A2 is to compete with Falcon that is the fastest option and £5 single only every hour and dies a good trade with students and pensioners who aren't given discounts on First.

  6. I meant A2 fare not A2 itself which is there to appease users of the old route.

  7. The A1 is run under contract to the airport who wanted it diverted via the guideway. It does 100% save getting stuck in the awful Bedminster traffic congestion.

    The A2 maintains the link between Bedminster and the Airport, as a lot of Airport staff live there.

    It's got nothing to do with the Falcon whatsoever.