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Major Updates

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MetroBus?

MetroBus is designed to fit in between rail and existing bus services. MetroBus works like a tram only it runs on tyres and instead of rails it uses bus lanes and guided busways. It’s connected to the city’s traffic light system to ensure it moves quickly past other road vehicles and if you miss one… there will be another along in just a few minutes.

How will services be operated?

MetroBus will be operated on a commercial basis by private contractors in partnership with Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils.

The partnership sets out minimum standards covering things like: vehicle emissions, service frequencies, ticket prices and how often the buses are cleaned.

First Bus will be operating the M2 route between Ashton Vale Park & Ride and the city centre. The operator for the M1 route between Cribbs Causeway and Hengrove and the M3 route between Emersons Green and the city centre will be announced later in the year. Final details such as timetables and ticket prices will be made known once the operators have been announced..

Where will MetroBus go?

Click the image to enlarge

When will services start?

Services will start in the the spring this year.

The MetroBus route between Emersons Green and the city centre via UWE will be the first to launch as soon as the Bromley Heath viaduct works has completed on the ring road. This service will be closely followed by the service from Long Ashton Park & Ride to Bristol Temple Meads and the city centre. The route  between Cribbs Causeway and Hengrove Park via UWE and the city centre is expected to launch in the late summer.

How much will tickets cost?

The partnership agreement sets out the maximum fare levels for a single journey that the operators can charge. These are broadly in line with fares charged by the region’s current bus network.

Concessionary travelcards will be accepted on all MetroBus services.

Actual ticket prices will set by the operators and will be made known once the operators have been announced.

What ticketing will be used?

You will need to buy tickets before boarding. This will speed up passenger boarding times, which in turn will lead to a faster, more reliable service.

Passengers will be able to buy their tickets from MetroBus stops, online, at local shops and via their mobile phones.

The ticket machines at MetroBus stops will accept bank card and smartcard payments, but not cash.

The exact types of tickets available and their prices will be set by the MetroBus operators.

What kind of vehicle will MetroBus use?

MetroBuses will be fuel efficient hybrid vehicles or equivalent with low emissions and feature twin doors to speed up boarding and exiting. Each MetroBus will be wi-fi enabled and feature individual USB ports at each seat for charging mobile phones, tablets etc. The operators have been given a two year grace period to achieve the fuel efficiency standard. It is likely that the first service will start with EuroVI standard diesel buses. These vehicles are remarkably clean with emissions similar to a small family car.

How will MetroBus be accessible?

MetroBus stops and vehicles will comply with the Equality Act (2010). Our services will be fully accessible to disabled passengers. Our buses will be low floor vehicles with wheelchair space, colour contrast facilities and next stop announcements. All stops will have raised kerbs and accessible timetable information. Step-free access not only benefits disabled people or those with reduced mobility but also people with children, heavy luggage or shopping.

How regular will MetroBus services be?

This will depend on the route and time of day. MetroBuses on the Cribbs Causeway to Hengrove Park route are expected to run every ten minutes during peak times.

How much quicker will MetroBus be?

The MetroBus will be quicker than existing bus services and car journeys due to the following reasons:

  • Direct Routes for many people who currently have to change.
  • Off-bus ticket purchasing
  • Fewer stops
  • Bus priority at junctions
  • New bus lanes
  • New bus only roads like the new M32 bus only junction and the guided busway through south Bristol.

The following table shows examples of the likely time savings during peak periods compared to the existing bus network.

RouteCurrentMetroBus
Cribbs Causeway to UWE40 Minutes30 Minutes
Long Ashton Park & Ride to Temple Meads23 Minutes17 Minutes
Emersons Green to Broadmead40 Minutes29 Minutes
Hengrove Park to Prince Street44 Minutes30 Minutes
Bedminster to UWE41 Minutes30 Minutes
City Centre to Aztec West44 Minutes37Minutes

Other Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do we need MetroBus?
    The Bristol area is a great place to live. It has a thriving economy, low unemployment and a vibrant social scene that rivals London. It is consistently voted one of the most desirable locations to live in the UK and this is borne out by the steady increase in population. To meet the demand, the four local councils (Bath and North-East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire) are looking to build 105,000 extra new homes over the next twenty years. The downside to Bristol’s popularity is that it's often voted one of the UK’s worst cities for traffic congestion, air pollution and lack of adequate public transport.  With a growing population comes an increase in car use and the roads are close to capacity. A single incident on one part of the road network can cause gridlock everywhere else. According to Tom Tom’s Travel Index, car journeys in Bristol take 31% longer during peak time than they do in free-flowing traffic. That’s an average 36 minutes each day, or 138 hours/17 working days each year. Other research has concluded that the average speed during peak time is just 16 mph with 23% of the average journey spent stationary. Simply put, there are too many cars in Bristol. The road space cannot be continually increased and as the population increases, traffic congestion is set to become worse. As an area, we need to become less dependent on the car. If all car users switched to an alternative form of transport one day a week, traffic congestion would be significantly reduced. Less congestion would mean quicker journey times, lower pollution levels and an improvement in air quality. MetroBus is designed to be an affordable, quick and reliable alternative to the car. The initial MetroBus routes will provide a backbone to which further routes and extensions will be added. It is not an instant cure to the area’s traffic congestion, but the start of a wider solution. It is the first step to realising a fully integrated public transport system for the city and the surrounding area. An innovative joint project between Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils, MetroBus will quickly transport large numbers of people around the area by using a combination of segregated busways and bus lanes. MetroBus will be connected to the traffic light system to ensure a fast, reliable, express service between 79 strategically placed stops. It’s a smarter way of travelling that will speed up journey times, relieve congestion and reduce levels of pollution. The MetroBus network will provide direct routes to key destinations around the area, enabling thousands of people to access employment, education and leisure opportunities from densely populated areas without having to rely on the car.
  • Why MetroBus not trams?
    Installing a tram system would have taken longer, caused more disruption and cost more money. The main reasons for choosing MetroBus over trams are set out below:
    • Before rails and gantries can be installed, all major services like gas, water, electricity, telecoms, drainage and sewerage have to be removed or diverted so that they can be accessed in an emergency.
    • Once tramlines are installed, the cost of altering routes is extremely expensive and time consuming.
    • MetroBus is extremely flexible. As the city changes in the future, new routes can easily be added or existing routes altered to adapt to the changing need.
    • A tram based system did not meet the value for money requirements set by the Department for Transport.
  • Why is it taking longer than expected?
    Unfortunately we are all human. Despite using the most up-to-date plans and documentation, we occasionally encounter the odd water or gas main that hasn’t been charted or come across services that are not as deep as anticipated. This means that the services have to be altered before the planned work can proceed. How quick this can be done depends on the complexity of the problem and the availability of the appropriate water, gas, electricity, telecommunications and sewerage engineers.  
  • Why is MetroBus not serving my area?
    The initial MetroBus routes were based on the following criteria.
    • Connect parts of the city with poor public transport to jobs, training, education and leisure opportunities.
    • Link to Park & Ride schemes and existing public transport to offer a quick, reliable and affordable alternative to the car.
    • Service areas designated for future economic and residential development.
    MetroBus extensions and new routes are already being planned with the aim of further connecting the greater Bristol area with existing public transport services.  
  • What is a guided busway?
    A guided busway is a purpose built track that steers a bus by external means. The busway is much narrower than a normal bus lane with high vertical kerbs.  Small guide wheels attached to the bus engage with the vertical kerbs on either side of the track. This engages the steering mechanism, keeping the MetroBus centralised on the narrow busway while allowing high-speeds. Precise positioning at boarding platforms makes access easier for the elderly and disabled. Away from the guided busway, the MetroBus is steered in the normal way
  • Why is there a bus only junction on the M32?
    The bus only junction will enable MetroBus services to avoid any congestion around Junction 1 of the M32 at Hambrook. As well as MetroBus services, the bus only junction will also be used by emergency vehicles.  
  • How many people will use MetroBus?
    MetroBus is expected to carry over 20,000 passengers per day. This is equal to:
    • Doubling the 7,500 passengers who daily use the Severn Beach railway line
    • 15% of the 128,000 passengers using First Group’s buses in the Bristol area on an average weekday.
    These passenger forecasts are for the first year only and are expected to grow. When Cambridge opened their MetroBus scheme in 2011, passenger numbers were 46% per cent higher than predicted.
  • What are the new ponds/ditches for?
    The technical term for these are attenuation basins. When it rains heavily they help drain the roads so that water doesn’t come bubbling up out of storm drains. They have an added advantage of providing habitats for birds and other wildlife.

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