Thursday, 26 June 2014

X5 to run on Sundays from September

North Somerset Council have announced that they will fund the running of First X5, which links Portishead with Cribbs Causeway in one direction and with Clevedon, Yatton and Weston-super-Mare in the other, on Sundays.

They're funding it on a kick-start basis, whereby they hope it will attract enough passengers that First will be willing to continue running the Sunday service commercially once the funding runs out. It is therefore very much a case of use it or lose it.

The Sunday service will start at some point in September. The timetable has not been finalised, but we'll let you know as soon as it is available.

See the current Monday to Saturday timetable for the X5 here.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Suggestions to speed up journeys to Bristol

With a journey time from some parts of Portishead to Bristol approaching an hour, some people are put off using the bus. They either don't travel, go elsewhere or add to the congestion on the A369.

The combined 15 minute frequency on the X2 and X3 is a great thing, but reliability is an issue (and will be covered in a future post). The biggest issue however is the apparent slowness of the journey in and out of Bristol. So how could this be solved?

Well, one option is to split the X2 and X3 into a local stopping service that runs via Bristol Road, Sheepway and Pill and a proper express service that runs limited stop between the outskirts of Bristol City Centre and Portishead, still serving the loop to Redcliff Bay but without the pointless detour to the Police HQ.

Currently it requires 8 buses to run the X2/X3 in their current form. So how would my suggestion shape up?

The stopping service would require 2 buses to run an hourly stopping service. An additional bus could be used to give Pill an extra hourly bus to Bristol, so that they still have two buses an hour to the city. That's a total of 3 buses needed to serve Pill and provide a regular stopping service to Portishead.

The express service could potentially get from Bristol to Portishead and back in an hour and a half, meaning 5 buses dedicated to this route could provide a 20 minute frequency.

This would use no more buses than at present, but would provide a far faster and more attractive service to most farepayers. How about it First?

Click here to see the new proposed routes plotted on Google Maps. Here's a bit more detail on how I imagine the routes:

  • Stopping: As the X2 currently from Bristol, through Pill, along Sheepway then to Bristol Road and up the High Street, terminating on a loop along Cabstand/Nore Road, West Hill and Avon Way. Short journeys between Bristol and Pill only would run via the A369 from Bristol and then use the Pill loop one way towards Bristol.
  • Express: Direct along the A369, serving stops on the main road, but not deviating from it. Once it reaches Portishead, it would run via Quays Avenue and Harbour Road, cutting out the current X3 route around Port Marine, which takes far too long, mainly due to the roads being so narrow as to really be unsuitable for a bus service. It would then run up Combe Road/Avon Way and round the existing X2/X3 loop, but not serving Weatherly Drive, which is already adequately served by the X5. This route could possibly be sped up and provide more connections by running via the Clifton Suspension Bridge into Bristol.

Here's how various sections of route would be affected:

  • Weatherly Drive: Would lose direct buses to Bristol. Still served by the X5. Buses to Bristol a short walk away on Down Road with a shorter journey time.
  • Portishead loop: Faster journeys to Bristol in return for a slight reduction in frequency from 4 to 3 buses an hour.
  • Combe Road/High Street: Faster journey time to Bristol on most buses. Frequency to Sheepway and Pill cut to once an hour.
  • Bristol Road: Would be served by the hourly slow service to Bristol, but it still has the X5 and X8. Passengers could connect at High Street for the Express service.
  • Port Marine: Would no longer be served. Compensated for by the Express service stopping a short walk away at Waitrose and on Quays Avenue.
  • Sheepway: Cut from four buses to one bus an hour, but how many people use these stops anyway?
  • Pill: Would still have two buses an hour to Bristol. Only one an hour towards Portishead.

Friday, 20 June 2014

First fares change on 6th July

First, who run most of the buses in Portishead, have realised that we're being slightly overcharged and are therefore cutting most of their single fares from Sunday 6th July. Full details here.

Single fares will be harmonised across the region, being based on distance rather than whatever formula they use currently. This means an adult single between Portishead and Bristol will be cut from £5.50 currently to £4.50. Local journeys within Portishead will be £1.50.

There's no change to the Bristol Outer zone range of FirstDay, FirstWeek, FirstMonth and FirstYear tickets.

What is new for us is the FirstTen ticket: Ten single journeys of any distance within the Bristol Inner/Outer zones on one ticket for £24. Using this to travel to/from Bristol means you'll pay an average of £4.80 return.

The current South West regional versions of FirstDay, First Week, FirstMonth and FirstYear are changing to become West regional tickets at the same price. They will no longer be valid on routes that are now branded as The Buses Of Somerset. This will only affect you if you need to travel beyond Weston-super-Mare. The £7 FirstDay West for example will still be valid on the X5 all the way to Weston.

If you do want to make a journey beyond Weston-super-Mare that involves using The Buses Of Somerset, then the only through ticket that will be available to you is the FirstDay West Plus at £10, that's a rise of 42% compared with the old FirstDay South West, which is being phased out.

These changes to fares take effect from Sunday 6th July.

Bus news for Portishead

Welcome to a new blog, dedicated to providing news about changes to Portishead's bus services, regardless of operator.

We will also have an always-updated list of bus routes serving our town, as well as details of fares and suggestions for days out by bus that you might not have previously considered.

Your comments are welcome either using the forms below each post or by e-mailing