Metro Mayor’s £7m bus boost

METRO Mayor Dan Norris has unveiled a £7 million package of bus improvements to boost West of England services.

It will see buses running at “turn up and go frequencies” during rush hour on five key Bristol routes.

It will also mean buses will run every 15 minutes on more main line routes that serve passengers changing from a WESTlink minibus, as well as more than 3,000 additional journey hours each week added to timetables region-wide from April 2.

The plan is a partnership of investment by the Metro Mayor and commercial operator First Bus, thanks to funding secured via the West of England Combined Authority’s Bus Service Improvement Plan.

More buses will also be added to routes that travel through the heart of areas where the Metro Mayor’s WESTlink minibuses are set to arrive this spring and summer.

This will mean passengers can more efficiently link to a bus on the main route between Keynsham and Brislington to Bristol, using the 39/X39, 349 and 522.

First Bus says the frequency of the X39 Bristol-Bath will be increased, with services Monday-Friday running every 15 minutes through the daytime, and more buses at weekends.

The 349 Bristol City Centre–Keynsham will have a revised timetable to improve punctuality. Buses will continue to run every 30 minutes, which when combined with the new 522 service will give an improved 15-minute frequency Monday-Saturday between Bristol and Keynsham town centre. The trips that extend to Midsomer Norton will be replaced by the 522.

First Bus says the evening 349 shuttle bus in Keynsham will be withdrawn due to very low usage, but evening buses between Bristol and Keynsham will continue to operate on the 39.

On Sundays, buses on the 349 from the city centre to Keynsham will change number at St John’s Church and become a number 17 to Southmead Hospital before continuing around the Keynsham loop.

The Metro Mayor hailed the “turn up and go” plans for five Bristol bus routes at peak times, which will see eight buses run each hour along Gloucester Road and Filton Avenue, nine buses an hour through Church Road, ten an hour to Fishponds and 13 from the University of the West of England (UWE) to Bristol city centre.

Mr Norris said: “Turn up and go means passengers will no longer need to worry about checking a timetable as they will know a bus will normally arrive quickly. I’ll be monitoring this closely to see if London-style frequency is something that really encourages people to get out of their cars and onto buses as it does in the capital.”

In total, over 3,000 additional journey hours each week will be added to timetables from April, with the total distance covered by West of England buses each year increasing by 1.5 million miles.

Mr Norris said the aim is to ensure West of England buses are not just more reliable in future, but more frequent too – to attract back former passengers and win new passengers as people ditch their cars for the bus.