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New m1 metrobus launches with biogas vehicles

The new m1 metrobus service which runs from Hengrove through Knowle West to UWE and Cribbs Causeway launched yesterday (Sunday) – with free rides for passengers all day.

The third and longest metrobus route aims to better connect people from South Bristol with the city centre and the north of the city and includes stops at the end of Filwood Broadway and at Inns Court – taking over part of the 90 route.

It has been set with delays and was originally due to open in February 2018. The date was  then pushed back to the summer and finally this year.

It follows the m3, launched in May last year serving Emersons Green to the city centre and the m2 in September – which runs from Long Ashton Park and Ride to the centre. These routes have proved popular, having together carried over 600,000 customers.

Bristol Community Transport is operating the m1 service under contract to First West of England – and has invested in a fleet of 21 new buses running on bio gas generated from food and farm waste and sewage.

The company has also created up to 60 new driver and support positions at its depot in Parson Street, Bedminster.

Following the free travel yesterday, tickets will now be available via the special iPoint machines that are part of the “buy before you board” policy to reduce journey times. These have already started appearing along the route and will be at all stops by the end of January.

One of the new ipoints along the route.

As well as providing real-time information, they allow customers to buy tickets using contactless or chip and pin bank cards. Customers can also buy tickets from First’s mTicket app, and registered Travelwest travelcard users can buy tickets from the Travelwest website.

Passengers without a contactless or chip and  pin bank card can buy tickets or top up their travelcards at PayZone or PayPoint stores.

First’s standard range of tickets for their Bristol and West of England fare zones, including concessionary cards, are also valid on all metrobus services.

To reflect the importance of the new service in supporting local communities –  there will be artwork featuring groups and organisations based along the route on the inside of the vehicles.

These will range from youth organisations such as scouts and theatre groups to services for the elderly and environmental charities.

Passengers taking the new service were mainly very happy – especially with the speed of the journeys.

Aaron Boyd (36) who has been using the m1 to get to work said:  “I’ve been happy with the service so far, it’s been very quick getting into town and Bedminster…”

And Sandra Jenkins (67) who used the service to get to Asda in Bedminster said it was ” a lot quicker” because it no longer went via Melvin Square.

But she was concerned at the loss of a bus stop along Creswicke Road, now the 90 no longer covered that part of the route – which meant older people would have to walk further.

“ A lot of people have complained… They are only stopping at these bus stops, Filwood Broadway and Inns Court. They don’t stop at Carisbrook any more and they’ve re-routed the 90…”

Managing Director of m1 operator First Bus West of England, James Freeman, said: “The vehicles and drivers that BCT are committing to the new m1 metrobus are providing a vital service supporting local communities…

“m3 and m2 have proved very popular and feedback is that they are getting people to where they need to be faster and more smoothly.

“Anything we can do to cut through congestion is good for our customers, our drivers and the whole city.  We believe this third and final route of the first phase of metrobus will be equally successful and contribute to a longer-term transport strategy that will alleviate the pressure facing our roads.”

Operations Manager at Bristol Community Transport, Jimmy Sommerville, said: “We’re all really excited about the m1. It’s a great opportunity to serve our community here in Bristol, helping people to get out of their cars and onto public transport. We’re very happy to be operating the service on a fleet of brand new biogas buses, which means we’re doing our part the for environment too.

“… The m1 has allowed us to create 60 new jobs at our Bedminster depot, which is excellent news. Also, as we’re a social enterprise, the proceeds of our work on the m1 will go towards our community transport services, providing community minibuses and specialist transport for older and disabled people in the city.”

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