MetroBus have recently finished their £3.8 million refurbishment of Ashton Avenue Bridge which has reopened to pedestrians and cyclists.
Construction work is also progressing on a second bridge at Bathurst Basin that will double the road space available to all vehicles and provide new space for cyclists and pedestrians. As well as constructing the new bridge, MetroBus is building new crossings that will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between Cumberland Road, Bathurst Basin Parade, Wapping Road and Commercial Road.
James Freeman, Managing Director of First Bristol said: “MetroBus marks the start of an exciting new era for public transport in and around Bristol, with even lower-emission vehicles, faster boarding and dedicated sections of priority highway. It will be an entirely new way of travelling with one of the main features that the public will notice being that MetroBus only offers off-bus ticketing, which means that customers will buy their tickets before they board the vehicle which will result in a noticeably faster journey.”
Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Public Transport at Bristol City Council added: “I am very much looking forward to MetroBus services starting that will benefit from the segregation and bus priority measures. These measures and new smart ticketing will generate a noticeable uplift of quality and reliability to the public transport network.”
Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, Deputy Leader at North Somerset Council and Executive Member for Strategic Planning, Highways and Transport added: “MetroBus is opening up new public transport corridors that also benefit general traffic flow so it’s a win-win situation for all. This is great news for our region’s economy and will really help to tackle congestion.”
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils and the Department for Transport have funded the improvements to the network and put in place new MetroBus-only facilities (such as the busway from Long Ashton Park and Ride and the new bus-only junction on and off the M32, segregated routes, separate junctions, new bus lanes, improvements at junctions, 92 new bus stops all of which will have interactive information points which will provide a range of tickets). Together with twin doored buses, the fully off-bus ticket system will allow MetroBus to provide a reliable, predictable service that minimises the time spent at stops which will mean quicker journey times for bus passengers.
Some of these facilities are only available to MetroBus operators that agree to the terms of a sub agreement (known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement) to the Quality Partnership Scheme (QPS). Others, such as the new layout in the city centre, provide journey time reliability for the benefit of all buses in the city, as well as providing additional road space for buses and cyclists and improved journey time reliability for all traffic.
The QPS sets out the minimum standards MetroBus operators must meet (including vehicle quality, vehicle emissions, branding, maximum fares, minimum service frequencies and how often the buses are cleaned). The full QPS will be published on the travelwest.info website.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) confirms the services that an operator will provide and sets the framework for the monitoring of both services and the facilities. Under the VPA, the MetroBus operator is responsible for the vehicles and the running of the bus services. The councils are responsible for the MetroBus road network, roadside infrastructure and facilities including bus shelters and interactive information points, online MetroBus sales and information channels.
Regular meetings of operators and the councils at the MetroBus Performance Group will monitor the services and facilities to ensure standards on both sides are maintained as agreed in the VPA and QPS. A jointly agreed MetroBus Performance Report will also be published on the Travelwest website.