MetroBus announced today (16 May) expected dates for the two delayed routes which will now start in autumn and new year.
The M2 Long Ashton to the city centre was originally expected to start running this Easter – but has now pushed back until the autumn. The M1 Hengrove to Cribbs Causeway route via Filwood has been delayed until January 2019.
The first service to start will now be the M3 Emersons Green to the city centre on Tuesday 29 May – which will be offering free rides until 9 June. It will be operated by First West of England which is also running the Long Ashton service.
The £230 million rapid transit system is designed to speed up travel and reduce congestion – with a dedicated route and off bus ticketing. It also aims to provide better connections for south Bristol with the city centre.
A South Bristol Link service from Hengrove, through Hartcliffe and Bishopsworth to Long Ashton recently disappeared off the map.
MP for Bristol South, Karin Smyth, has written to Metrobus and demanded that Bristol City Council reinstate the link on the route map.
“While I welcome the recent launch of of some Metrobus routes, I remain extremely concerned that the Ashton to Hengrove link seems to have fallen by the wayside…
“This crucial route, designed to properly connect communities currently poorly served by public transport, was a central part of the Metrobus offer. It is also essential to the success of South Bristol Community Hospital…
“Local residents have lived with significant disruption and inconvenience while the road that the Metrobus is to use was built. But it would seem that once again, people in this part of South Bristol have been pushed down the pecking order when it comes to community investment.”
A Metrobus spokesperson said the route between Hengrove and the city centre via the South Bristol Link was “a core part of the Metrobus network”.
He said: “The local councils have always viewed Metrobus services as a commercial operation that won’t require subsidy from the councils. Bus operators have so far agreed to commercially run three of the originally proposed five Metrobus routes… much of which will connect south Bristol residents with jobs in the city centre and north Bristol.
“The remaining two routes, including Hengrove to the city centre via the South Bristol Link, haven’t been removed from the network but haven’t yet generated a commercial offer from bus operators.
He said Metrobus was a “long-term investment in Bristol’s public transport infrastructure” designed to meet passenger demand as the city region grew.
Direct connections to the Metrobus network are included in the plans for each of the new housing developments on Filwood Park and the old Whitchurch airport. Making sure the public transport is in place before the housing will mean ” people who move into these new developments are more likely to use the bus”.
He added: “The South Bristol Link is doing what it was designed to do. It has removed traffic from unsuitable residential roads, reduced journey times and improved transport links for residents and businesses in south Bristol…”
New biogas buses
The M1 Hengrove service will now be run by Bedminster-based Bristol Community Transport (BCT) – using zero carbon buses fuelled by biogas.
BCT has ordered 21 biogas buses for the and are about to start work on the new gas refuelling facilities at their depot in Parson Street. The company is creating 60 new jobs at the depot and will reinvest all profits in the local community.