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Author Topic: MetroBus  (Read 108683 times)
Reading General
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« Reply #855 on: May 02, 2019, 08:51:26 pm »

As a driver, express or skip stop buses cause confusion and conflict with passengers. From a passenger point of view, nobody likes to stand at a bus stop and watch buses sail past possibly empty while waiting for the appropriate service, modern private bus companies wouldn't want this to happen to any potential passenger either.  I would say that express services would only work with a large grade separated road during the route but if this route also bypasses a large passenger traffic generator then potentially it wouldn't be worthwhile.
I would suggest that in many towns and cities, stop reduction on an overall bus route would be better than an express service and present a happy medium. I'm sure all of you wherever you are based could think of a main road or location where bus stops are too close together. There are two locations in Reading I can think of that have a stops with a distance of about four bus lengths between them, and they are both on the same bus route!
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TonyK
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« Reply #856 on: May 02, 2019, 08:56:38 pm »

It was a curious aberration, that minibus craze. Here in Bristol, in the mid-80's, they flooded routes that had hitherto used proper buses with a mixture of nearly 200 16-seater Ford Transits and 20-seater Mercedes 608Ds, branded as 'City Darts'. They were so ubiquitous that they even appeared in the soap opera 'Casualty' branded as 'Holby Hoppas'.

Standing at The Centre now, surrounded by fully-loaded full-spec double decker buses, it is hard to believe that Bristol's bus network once largely consisted of, essentially, delivery vans...

Ah, young-ish Squirrel, but they boldly went where no-one had gone (nor split infinitives) before! I lived in Cotham before it got posh, then Redland before that climbed the ladder. Everywhere I moved out of seemed to enjoy a rapid rise in house prices for some reason, but I digress. At the time, the nearest bus was to be found on Gloucester Road, which meant I walked to work in Bedminster before acquiring my motorcycle. But then along came the number 20 City Dart, transforming travel! Sadly, from my selfish point of view, it became a victim of its success. The early days where I could choose my seat soon became horror stories of rain-sodden passengers steaming in proximity too close for comfort, and giving each other a fit of the vapours, and the full-sized single deckers came along. Being of the commuter belt, they were full twice a day, but never quite good enough to see the car left at home. The 20 (and 21/22) saw several changes to the outer limits of the routes, moving from Westbury, by Canford Crem, to Southmead and even Lawrence Weston, and at the other end from Ashton Vale to Whitchurch and Hengrove. Crossing the Centre made them unreliable, and the 20 became the 90 south of the Hippodrome and the 70 en route to Thornbury in the opposite direction. My point is that had it not been for the City Fart blazing the trail, there may not have been the services there are now.

Fond memories include a bearded bespectacled driver, hipster-ish before the time came and clearly living the dream, enthralled his captive audience in the days before smart phones with a full description of the subtle differences between the particular bus we were on and the rest of the fleet, because of it having come from Scotland. The door was, seemingly, an inch or two to the left of the norm, with an extra strap on the grab rail for those unable to get a seat. The stunned silence could be cut with the bluntest knife, and some people even forgot to say "Cheers Drive" on disembarkation. And there was that young lady, one of the first of the Polish imports, who, with me being her only passenger, asked me for directions. I got her as far as my front door before telling her "I haven't been further than this on the bus - you're on your own. Dziękuję Drive!"

In the past few days I have ridden the the m3x (Emersons Green Express) twice. Loadings not as many as I would have expected for this Express Service. The first and initial journey was 31 minutes from the Central Bristol starting point to my alighting at Emersons Green and yesterdays was 35 minutes for the same journey. Couldn't do it much quicker by car if I included walking to a car park and retrieving vehicle. I am surprised that there is no morning outward express services to Emersons Green and no evening inbound express services from Emersons Green to cater for those employed on the Emerald Park / Science Park Business Parks. Off peak however the service is still carrying a high proportion of fresh air around. I would be interested to see what the loading figures are for this service but I know that any divulgence of this information would be classified as 'commercially confidential' and therefore unavailable but how long can First Bus continue to operate this service at the current 20 minute frequency off peak which must be eating into the proceeds of the farebox and thus profitability achieved by the patronage in the peaks,

Tricky! The new fare structure of First in Bristol is something of a double-edged sword here, although largely beneficial. Ignoring the differences between cash or mTicket (cash not an option on MetroBust) and going for the cheapest option, any trip bar the "three stop hop" costs £2.00. If you are heading from town to Keith Emersons Green to work and are planning to go home afterwards, then a £4.00 day ticket is the no-brainer. Everybody pays the same, and the people who used to drive part of the way then park in a local street to pay a cheaper fare now go from home by bus. Others that thought an occasional bus ride at £1.50 to be good value may now walk rather than pay £2.50 because they aren't signed up to the relevant app. If First could fill the bus three times on a single route, they may make a killing, but express services generally don't do that.

Time will tell.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 09:07:05 pm by TonyK » Logged

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Lee
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« Reply #857 on: May 05, 2019, 10:49:23 am »

Simon Ford, Commercial Manager for First West of England, has provided the following insight on the subject of express bus routes for the benefit of forum members:

Quote from: Simon Ford, Commercial Manager for First West of England
As a starting point, express bus routes that can offer comparable or ideally better journey times than travelling by car are the ones most likely to succeed.

However, there needs to be sufficient customer demand to fill the bus, which of course means stopping at bus routes. The new Service m3x is a good example where the service stops at a number of bus stops in or near residential areas before running non-stop into the City Centre. The setup of this route means the bus can fill with customers at the start of the route, where the average speed is slower and then operate non-stop.

We have recently introduced a number of other express bus routes, such as Service T1 from Thornbury, Service Y1 from Yate and Service X1x from Weston-super-Mare. These are all showing encouraging signs of customer growth.

The express buses tend to appeal much more to commuters and therefore work well at peak times Monday to Friday. Off-peak and leisure travellers do not tend to be so worried about time and the demand reduces, so express buses at these times tend not to work so well.

With express buses, we often get requests to add additional stops. While this can be good from an increasing customer numbers point of view, it can does slow the buses down and therefore there is a fine balance required. In the past we have added many additional stops to express buses and before long they simply become normal bus services, with lower average speeds and increased journey times.

We plan to introduce further express bus routes at peak times where viable in the future, however, there are a number of commercial considerations that have to be given to this. For example, operating a bus is very expensive and if the bus can only be filled in the morning peak and afternoon peak and there is no use for the bus during the off-peak, this may not actually be commercially viable.
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TonyK
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« Reply #858 on: May 06, 2019, 08:40:58 pm »

Good points from Mr Ford, and we shall see how it all works out.

Meanwhile, things are not so good in South Bristol. From MetroBust's Facebook page:

Quote
Metrobus Bristol
23 hrs ∑
**m1 Important Update**

Due to another vandalism attack at Inns Court, the m1 will not serve the stops at Novers Lane, Inns Court or Filwood Broadway for the rest of the night (Sunday 5th May).

Apologies for the inconvenience we appreciate that this causes.

Notwithstanding the criticism I have levelled at MetroBust since its inception, some of it fairly harsh, I most certainly do not condone this. It does not, sadly, come as a complete surprise.The bus companies have in past times been forced to withdraw "ordinary" buses - those without a M before the number - from the area at certain times because of vandalism. Inns Court is a sprawling low rise housing estate with labyrinthine pathways offering easy escape for the sort of pondlife that enjoys throwing rocks at anything big, shiny and expensive.  I consider that MetroBust only went there to collect more BCR stickers to get the funding.
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« Reply #859 on: May 06, 2019, 10:20:17 pm »

Brave to withdraw. Reading Transport never withdrew from estates or sections of route because of vandalism. Largely youths biting the hand that feeds them in situations like these, who probably use the buses every other day.
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TonyK
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« Reply #860 on: May 06, 2019, 11:11:22 pm »

Brave to withdraw. Reading Transport never withdrew from estates or sections of route because of vandalism. Largely youths biting the hand that feeds them in situations like these, who probably use the buses every other day.

First never truly withdrew. Inns Court , one of the housing estates in which I plied my trade for more years than I care to count, has a sort of square that used to house a bus terminus for a couple of services that served Knowle West, the adjacent larger council estate, giving bus access to the central area. Drivers used to take a short break there. When the trouble broke out some years ago, drivers didn't stop there for breaks any more, but drove ECS to what was then an abandoned tobacco factory car park and is now Imperial Park. When that didn't stop all of the problems, some evening services were withdrawn, and eventually the terminus of the one remaining route was shifted to Hengrove. The theory that the loss of some services would lead to dobbing in of the culprits proved optimistic. Things seemed to have returned to normal in recent years, but the arrival of MetroBust seems to have stirred things up. I don't think for a second that there is any political motivation involved, just mindless vandalism, but the other services that used to pass by have been routed away. That means that the M1, run by charity BCT on behalf of First on behalf of MetroBust bears the brunt, and the expense, of the attacks.
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« Reply #861 on: May 07, 2019, 08:06:49 pm »

Over the next few days there will be a series of drop-in sessions to discuss the upcoming closure of Gipsy Patch Lane bridge, in June 2019. This initial one-month closure is required by BT; it is hoped that it may be possible to keep the route open for pedestrians and (dismounted!) cyclists. The main work of demolishing the stone arched bridge and replacing with a much wider structure, to accommodate the Cribbs Patchway Metrobus Extension, will take place later in the year.

The sessions are as follows:

Wednesday 8 May 5pm to 7pm  - Little Stoke Primary School, Little Stoke, BS34 6HY
Monday 13 May 3pm to 6pm - Patchway Community Centre, Rodway Road, Patchway, BS34 5PF
Tuesday 14 May 3pm to 5pm - Cherry Room, Baileys Court Activity Centre, Baileys Court Road, Bradley Stoke, BS32 8BH
Monday 20 May 3.30pm to 6.30pm - Stoke Gifford Parish Council, Community Hall, Little Stoke Lane, Little Stoke, BS34 6HR
Tuesday 21 May 4pm to 7pm - St Michael's Centre, The Green, Stoke Gifford, BS34 8PD
Wednesday 22 May 3pm to 6pm - BAWA Centre, 589 Southmead Rd, BS34 7RG
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« Reply #862 on: May 12, 2019, 06:35:31 am »

A chance to use the Metrobus to Long Ashton Park and Ride yesterday - my first trip on this route







Echoing (perhaps) what's already been said / asked ... I really wonder why there's a "need" for the guided sections and wonder if a simple road for bus and emergency service use only would be just as good, and perhaps cheaper as it's such a standard thing to build flat roads and to build buses to run on them.   I also found myself wondering at the rather curvy route ... so much so, I rather found myself turned around and not knowing which direction was which!

Park and ride ... buses quiet (but then it was the quiet middle of the day, and a Saturday) and lots of available spaces in the P&R for growth - at least on Saturday.  How is it doing the rest of the week?
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« Reply #863 on: May 12, 2019, 06:56:31 am »

A chance to use the Metrobus to Long Ashton Park and Ride yesterday - my first trip on this route



Echoing (perhaps) what's already been said / asked ... I really wonder why there's a "need" for the guided sections and wonder if a simple road for bus and emergency service use only would be just as good, and perhaps cheaper as it's such a standard thing to build flat roads and to build buses to run on them.   I also found myself wondering at the rather curvy route ... so much so, I rather found myself turned around and not knowing which direction was which!

Park and ride ... buses quiet (but then it was the quiet middle of the day, and a Saturday) and lots of available spaces in the P&R for growth - at least on Saturday.  How is it doing the rest of the week?

That blue cars registered keeper will get a nice letter dropping on the their doormat shortly cos they shouldn't have been where they were in that piccy. Hmmmm.
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TonyK
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« Reply #864 on: May 12, 2019, 10:35:53 pm »


Echoing (perhaps) what's already been said / asked ... I really wonder why there's a "need" for the guided sections and wonder if a simple road for bus and emergency service use only would be just as good, and perhaps cheaper as it's such a standard thing to build flat roads and to build buses to run on them.   I also found myself wondering at the rather curvy route ... so much so, I rather found myself turned around and not knowing which direction was which!

Park and ride ... buses quiet (but then it was the quiet middle of the day, and a Saturday) and lots of available spaces in the P&R for growth - at least on Saturday.  How is it doing the rest of the week?

The need for the whole busway has been questioned by many, certainly me. The chief mysteries are the guided bit and the winding route, as you have spotted. The answers lie in the daft way we do transport in Britain. Without the dog-leg to pass close to the edge of the houses in Ashton vale, the route would not have attracted sufficient brownie points on the Benefit Cost Ratio spreadsheet to make it worthwhile. Fortunately, a significant number of the residents count as deprived, being old, infirm, or both, which helped greatly. Also, as MetroBust is the booby prize after nearly getting a tram network, it has to be "special" in a way other bus schemes are not, hence the shortest guided busway in the world.

It's supposed to have traps to stop cars getting onto it. If they are installed at the Cumberland Road end, then it doesn't look as though they work very well, but that won't save the driver of the car from a fine. Just as well really - the access charges for bus operators were dropped, removing the sole revenue flow for the project, so sixty quid from a careless driver will be a welcome contribution to the repayment of the rather large loan taken out to pay for it.

The park and ride has never been particularly well patronised. First thing in the morning and afternoon peak are pretty busy, but I have never seen it come close to being full. Such popularity as it enjoys is likely to drop somewhat when the Portishead railway opens.
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« Reply #865 on: May 13, 2019, 10:38:01 am »

The 'car trap' is at the southern end of that bridge. In fact the driver of the blue car has just passed the sign warning of it, though I'm sure there are other signs where the route joins Cumberland Road.
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« Reply #866 on: May 13, 2019, 11:44:18 am »

It was a curious aberration, that minibus craze. Here in Bristol, in the mid-80's, they flooded routes that had hitherto used proper buses with a mixture of nearly 200 16-seater Ford Transits and 20-seater Mercedes 608Ds, branded as 'City Darts'. They were so ubiquitous that they even appeared in the soap opera 'Casualty' branded as 'Holby Hoppas'.

Standing at The Centre now, surrounded by fully-loaded full-spec double decker buses, it is hard to believe that Bristol's bus network once largely consisted of, essentially, delivery vans...

Ah, young-ish Squirrel, but they boldly went where no-one had gone (nor split infinitives) before! I lived in Cotham before it got posh, then Redland before that climbed the ladder. Everywhere I moved out of seemed to enjoy a rapid rise in house prices for some reason, but I digress. At the time, the nearest bus was to be found on Gloucester Road, which meant I walked to work in Bedminster before acquiring my motorcycle. But then along came the number 20 City Dart, transforming travel! Sadly, from my selfish point of view, it became a victim of its success. The early days where I could choose my seat soon became horror stories of rain-sodden passengers steaming in proximity too close for comfort, and giving each other a fit of the vapours, and the full-sized single deckers came along. Being of the commuter belt, they were full twice a day, but never quite good enough to see the car left at home. The 20 (and 21/22) saw several changes to the outer limits of the routes, moving from Westbury, by Canford Crem, to Southmead and even Lawrence Weston, and at the other end from Ashton Vale to Whitchurch and Hengrove. Crossing the Centre made them unreliable, and the 20 became the 90 south of the Hippodrome and the 70 en route to Thornbury in the opposite direction. My point is that had it not been for the City Fart blazing the trail, there may not have been the services there are now.
City Dart buses are hailed by the Bristol Post-Life today in one of those "Wasn't everything great before they made it good" pieces.
Quote
They were a bit rubbish, small, and not exactly efficient, but they were Bristolís. Cheap, convenient and with the word Ďdartí, like it was going to get you there quicker than a giant double decker, it was like being in a big car with the family you didnít know.
https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/6-things-bristol-loved-most-2856319

(I'm glad the flyover's gone)
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« Reply #867 on: May 17, 2019, 06:57:49 am »

So BCC is not the only LA to waste money on bus shelters being erected AFTER a route has been axed, BBC R4 news reporting residents of an area of Rotherham are perplexed after council workman arrived and erected a £6000 bus shelter at a stop that had recently seen the service axed. Reminiscent of the £20000 BCC spent in the Lawrence Weston area on 2 bus shelters opposite each other on a route where First Bus re-routed their service and the Wessex contracted service was withdrawn. Oh well its only taxpayers money and theres plenty of that sloshing around looking for a project to be spent on.
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« Reply #868 on: May 17, 2019, 08:05:16 am »

This occurs everywhere and demonstrates the lack of communication between councils and bus companies. The three councils which cover the suburban areas of Reading not in the Borough, continue to make mistakes with public transport investment. A few years ago South Oxfordshire council changed the road layout at Peppard Common without even realising it was a bus terminus, leaving buses to reverse for a few weeks until somebody let them know. Wokingham council, that cover east Reading, fitted Kassel kerbs on the wrong side of the road on a terminal loop in Lower Earley. Reading borough council even own Reading buses but have still fitted Kassel kerbs in the wrong position at stops and renew bus flags long out of use. One was renewed a few years back on a section of route which buses could no longer fit down and hadn't been used since the 80's. It is still there now!
Public transport planning should include all parties and mimic the corporation transport departments of the past. However, things have changed and bus companies now see themselves as selling a product rather than providing an integrated service and no longer like to bother themselves with attention to detail like the location or use of stops. Similar, councils simply install the latest bus stop technology at every stop whether on a route or not and don't seem to be bothered if it works or not just happy to tick a box.
Incidentally, many Kassel kerb installations I see around the country, unless parallel with the roadway, are largely in the wrong locations and useless, damaging the vehicles more than helping them. Most modern vehicles have the drop floor ability and wheelchair ramps so these types of kerb are no longer necessary and it's about time money stopped being wasted on them. They are a bit of a watered down version of the original idea anyhow. To be useful, the gutter would have to be part of the kerb to provide level boarding.
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« Reply #869 on: May 17, 2019, 08:32:14 am »

All this seems to be as much about the ridiculous government policy that took public transport regulation powers from local authorities outside London as it does about the timing and location of bus shelters. 

Since funding for bus shelters presumably comes from local transport grant funding, is the problem also tied up with the lead times on those grants and the specificity that has to be included in those applications that amounts to micro management from London?
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