Major Updates

First buy before you board service outside London

First Bristol have announced they will start operating the m3 Metrobus Service on Tuesday 29 May, making Bristol the first city outside London that has a fast, ‘buy before you board’ only service, with speedier boarding and faster journeys.

To celebrate this occasion, First offers free travel to m3 passengers between 29 May and 9 June, giving people the opportunity to experience the new Metrobus service during those weeks.

The m3 Metrobus service operates from Emersons Green and will call at Lyde Green Park and Ride, Bristol & Bath Science Park, Emerald Park Industrial Estate, UWE, Cabot Circus and the city centre. The initial timetable for the summer will operate every 20 minutes between 0600 until 1900, and every 30 minutes until 2100 Mondays to Saturdays until a more comprehensive winter timetable comes into effect in September when demand increases.

The high-specification Metrobus double-decker vehicles on the m3 route will be in striking green livery and are equipped with USB charging points at every seat, free wifi and wood-effect flooring. First invested more than £1.5 million in the m3 vehicles, which use the cleanest Euro VI technology, improving local air quality along the route by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 95% compared to Euro V. Since 2016 First has spent around £33 million converting more than a third of its Bristol fleet to the cleanest Euro VI vehicles available on the market, and the company has a strategy to convert its entire local fleet to Euro VI by 2021.

The Metrobus vehicles will also have double doors to speed up getting on and off, and Metrobus will be the first commercially-operated ‘buy before you board’ service of its kind in the UK outside of London, which means that customers have purchased a valid ticket before boarding and cannot pay any bus fares from the driver.

First West of England Managing Director James Freeman said: “We are very excited about the launch of this new Metrobus service.  Metrobus promises to revolutionise bus transport in Bristol and South Gloucestershire by offering a premium service, faster getting on and off, and speedier travel by virtue of the dedicated road infrastructure and off bus ticketing.”

m3 timetable

Fast, frequent and reliable

To minimise congestion and speed up travel to and from the city centre, the m3 route will use dedicated Metrobus infrastructure including the bus-only junction on the M32 as well as the M32 bus lane.

MetroBus will operate on a simple zonal fare structure, making it easier to buy tickets, with single journey tickets in a single zone priced at £1.50, making it one of the cheapest single journey fares in the country.  An all-zone single journey is priced at £2.50.

All existing First mTickets and paper variants, concessionary passes and smart cards will be accepted.  As part of the launch, First will offer all trips on the new m3 service for free until the 9 June to give as many as people as possible the opportunity to experience the service for free.  More offers will be publicised closer to the start date.

Existing First Bus tickets will be valid for on Metrobus services and can be bought via the free First Bus mTicket app on Android and Apple smartphones, as well as from an expanding retail network of more than 300 shops and as well as 150 businesses, schools, colleges and unis, council departments and organisations supporting vulnerable people that provide bus tickets directly to eligible clients.

Passengers will also be able to buy and top up smart cards online at metrobusbristol.co.uk closer to the launch date and at the 78 iPoints that are due to be installed at every Metrobus stop.

Reducing congestion

Councillor Mhairi Threlfall, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Connectivity said, “Metrobus has already provided many benefits, from an enhanced city centre to new walking and cycling infrastructure. And, crucially, it will provide a fast, reliable, direct route from the South of the City to the North, with the first route running from the centre to UWE and business centres at Emerald Park and the Bristol & Bath Science Park. I for one will use it and I hope many more people will join me to give it a try. The bus-only junction will also noticeably speed up the journey.”

Councillor Colin Hunt, lead member for planning, transport and strategic environment at South Gloucestershire Council said, “This is good news for everyone who uses the roads – a reliable bus service, direct to the city centre, avoiding congestion hot spots, will encourage people out of their cars, reducing congestion further and helping to improve our air quality.  As a regular bus user I’m looking forward to faster journeys avoiding the congestion hot spots.”

Chris Donnelly, Travel and Access Manager at the University of the West of England said, “It is great to hear that the new Metrobus M3 services will be commencing very soon. The service from Emmerson’s Green to the City Centre calling at Frenchay campus will provide fantastic new link for our staff in the summer months and will hopefully be well received by our students when they arrive for the start of the new academic year in September. These new services will help us with our ambition to provide high quality sustainable travel solutions for all of our users and to reduce our travel related impact on the wider region.”

Ann O’Driscoll, Director of North Bristol SusCom, a group of major employers based in North Bristol promoting sustainable commuting said, “This is excellent news. Employees working at the Bristol & Bath Science Park and other businesses in the east fringe will soon benefit from a new direct, fast and frequent Metrobus service from the City Centre via UWE. The new Metrobus bus stop infrastructure along the A4174 will help enable many more to start commuting regularly by bus.”

MetroBus network

Click on the map to view a larger version.

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