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New and improved busses in Bristol

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In the last few years, particularly since the pandemic, any changes to the bus timetables in Bristol, Bath and surrounding areas have always been quite discouraging to anyone who is trying to leave their car in the garage (or simply doesn’t have one). A number of bus routes removed, some significantly reduced- shortened routes or less frequent services- all due to the passengers’ fear of Covid and post-Brexit staffing issues (not enough drivers).

But as Bristol and Bath city councils both introduce Clean Air Zones and try to encourage locals to keep their high emission cars away from the city centre, it became clear that better bus services are in high demand.

Starting on 7th April, not only the frequency of some of the buses will be improved, but also new routes added, including service 41 which will connect Kingswood and Avonmouth.

Plans to launch three new Bristol bus routes – which will aim to help people travel across the city – have been announced by First West of England. The new services will start on Sunday, April 7.

One new service – the 41 – will connect the east of the city with communities in the north west of Bristol. The route will connect Kingswood and Avonmouth, travelling through the city centre and onto Sea Mills, Shirehampton and Avonmouth. First has said journeys between Avonmouth and the city centre will take less than 30 minutes. It will operate every half-an-hour during peak times every day, and the timetable will be aligned to shift start times at Avonmouth.

A cross-city connection (service 5) between St Anne’s and Clifton will also be introduced. It is not a completely new service as it will replace the current service 36 route, but will be extended to take in the Bristol Hippodrome and Park Street, before heading on to Clifton.

The third route will see service 77 connect Henleaze to Gloucester Road via the city centre. It will be the only route to directly link shopping and leisure areas in Stokes Croft and Whiteladies Road with the city centre. First said it hopes the new service will relieve pressure on nearby bus routes.

There is also good news for two large residential areas in the city which will see a bus route reintroduced. Service 24 will once again serve Ashton Vale via South Liberty Lane, providing a route to Southmead Hospital. It will run every 15 minutes at peak times.

A new half-hourly service 47, serving Oldbury Court Estate with direct links to Fishponds Road, Stapleton Road, Broadmead and the City Centre, will also be introduced.

First said the services are being reinstated following discussions with the West of England Combined Authority and concerns from local residents. They were cut from the Bristol network in recent years because of underusage and a driver shortage as a result of the pandemic.

Quicker journeys from Fishponds and Eastville to the city centre will be available by making every other service 48 and 49 (city centre to Emersons Green) an express bus via the M32. This will reduce journey times by up to 12 minutes.

The routes of services 3 and 4 (city centre to Cribbs Causeway) will change so that both are extended to Cribbs Causeway, allowing buses to be spaced evenly within the hour resulting in Lawrence Weston benefiting from a bus to Cribbs Causeway and the city centre every 15 minutes.

A new express service D1x (Bath to Warminster) will be introduced between Trowbridge and Bath, making the journey between Bradford-on-Avon and Bath 15 minutes quicker. The service has been designed in partnership with Wiltshire Council and will be supported by funds from its Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Passengers in Bridgwater and Taunton will be able to take one bus to Bristol following the introduction of new services 374 and 375 via Glastonbury and Wells, making it one of the longest bus routes in the south-west, and costing an adult less than 5p per mile as a result of the ongoing government £2 fare scheme.

George Burton, Head of Network for First West of England, said: “All the changes we’re introducing in April are as a result of listening to our customers, local residents and working with local councils. We’ve also been able to work closely with the West of England Combined Authority to consider introducing new routes without the need for public funding. Introducing new cross-city routes, adding capacity, creating faster, express journeys and connecting more parts of the West of England, coupled with single ticket prices frozen and our Tap On, Tap Off technology making it quicker to travel and ensuring you pay the cheapest fares, shows we’re doing all we can to encourage more people to make bus the travel of choice. After the pandemic we had to make some tough decisions about our network, some of which were affected by a drop in passenger numbers as well as pressure on funding and our own resources, such as driver availability. We’re now firmly in a post-pandemic recovery, and following a successful recruitment campaign our driver numbers have increased, and we’re seeing great signs that people are returning to bus travel and new people are using the bus.”

Timetables for the new routes will be published in the coming days, and customers should check details on the First West of England website before travelling ahead of the new timetables coming into effect.

Don’t be surprised if you have a ticket inspection- travellers are asked to have their ticket ready for inspection- this is to ensure that all passengers are buying the correct tickets for their journey.

In other news, you can still claim a free month of bus travel on your birthday month- don’t miss this great offer. Register here:

Even though the buses that stop right outside NWBC (43 between Bristol and Cadbury Heath and 19 between Bath and Bristol Parkway) are not affected by the upcoming changes, we are excited to see a positive change in the local public transport.