First group to improve punctuality and reliability of buses

First takes steps to improve punctuality and reliability of buses, while adding in extra Sunday journeys

***Comprehensive timetable changes take effect from 29 March ***
To improve the punctuality and reliability of its bus services and cope with the circa 20% increase in the  number of people using Bristol s buses, operator First West of England is rescheduling many of its services and introducing some changes to its local network from 29 March. This will mean putting additional buses into service and recruiting more staff to drive them.

Sunday frequencies will also be increased on Services 17, 24, 39, 75/76, 46, X6, X74, X49.

To underpin the changes, the Company is seeking to recruit more than seventy new drivers to work in the city, helping to operate the 12 additional buses that will be brought into the fleet at the end of March.

The changes to the timetables – detailed below – are intended to fix issues with the punctuality of buses on key routes, while similarly taking into account changes in the traffic conditions in recent months, for instance the roll out of 20mph zones amongst other things.  The addition of more journeys on Sundays and Public Holidays in certain areas also responds to the increasing demand for bus travel on these days.

Talking about the changes being made, James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, says: “We are making a whole raft of changes to our network from the end of March in a real effort to tackle the problems that we have seen recently with services not running as they should do.

“We have already brought in more double-deckers to the Bristol fleet – with more to come later this summer and now we are putting more buses and consequently more drivers on the road.   These will help us overcome the challenges of congestion in the city, while also providing extra capacity for the increasing number of people wishing to use our services.

“As well as attempting to fix some of the significant punctuality and reliability issues we have faced in recent months we re also adding in extra journeys on Sundays and Public Holidays in a number of places. For instance Services 75 and 76 will see a much improved Sunday and Public Holiday timetable, with an increased combined frequency on these days. The same applies to Services 17,  24 and X74, while there will also be extra journeys on Sundays and Public Holidays on Services 39, 46, X6 and X49.

“There is also a brand new route – Service X48 – which should appeal to people wanting to travel quickly between the Bristol and Bath Science Park at Lyde Green, Emersons Green and the city centre.

“On the other hand we are changing part of the routes on both Service 5 and Service 36 in a real effort to make the services – which have historically suffered from poor punctuality – run on time.  We understand that people may not welcome these adjustments, but we re doing what we can to both explain what s happening, and minimise the impact on local people by altering other services too. ”

There are also some changes that arise out of the reduction in revenue support from Bristol City Council for a small number of evening and Sunday services.

For more information about the changes being made, or to view the new timetables for the affected services, log onto:   The new timetables will be uploaded (under Journey Planning / Timetable Booklets) by early March, and will be available in hard copy format by mid March (from Travel Shops).  

Service 73/X73 (Centre – Cribbs Causeway / Aztec West): The timetables of these two services are being changed to improve the punctuality and reliability of the buses. There will also be two route changes affecting both the buses in the city centre and in the north of the city.    The main changes can be best summarised as follows:

·        All buses will start and terminate at Lewins Mead instead of Colston Avenue to reduce the likelihood of them being caught in congestion around the centre. This will also enable all driver changes to be completed at the end of a journey rather than part-way through.
·        Service X73 buses will no longer cover the section of route between Aztec West Roundabout and Cribbs Causeway, nor will they call at East Filton Sainsbury s. Instead of the latter they ll travel directly along Great Stoke Way.  
·        Two extra vehicles will be used, helping to minimise the impact of traffic congestion.  They will mean that the frequency of Monday to Friday peak time journeys on Service 73 can be improved (to every 12-15 minutes). This should avoid the need for journeys to be cancelled, or cut short due to excessive late running as a result of congestion.
·        The timetable for evening journeys is being overhauled with one of the two extra buses used to ensure that the service during the evening is more punctual and reliable.  

Service X74 (Centre – Bradley Stoke): There are two main changes to this service. Specifically the route is being amended in the city centre: from 29 March Service X74 buses will start and terminate at Lewins Mead rather than Colston Avenue. This is being done to minimise the risk of buses being caught up in congestion around the centre and the cenotaph.

In addition the timetable is being adjusted to improve the punctuality and reliability of the services. Buses at peak times will be given additional running time and recovery time at the end of journeys to ensure if they are delayed en route there is no knock on effect to subsequent journeys.

There will also be a number of additional Monday to Friday and Saturday evening journeys introduced (designed to please those wishing to travel into the Centre for the evening from Bradley Stoke and UWE) and a brand new Sunday and Public Holiday timetable is being introduced.  

Notably the new Sunday and Public Holiday timetable, which will see buses running every 30 minutes between 1000 and 1800 hours, will give people in Little Stoke the opportunity to travel on these days, while also providing faster journeys between Bradley Stoke and the Centre. Students at UWE will also benefit from a quick and direct service to and from the Centre.

Finally, a small number of early morning Monday to Friday and Saturday journeys – which are poorly used at present – will be removed from the timetable.

Customers are strongly advised to check the new timetable to ensure they understand what is happening.
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