Bristol CT wins Metrobus contract

Bristol Community Transport (BCT) is to run route m1 – the longest Metrobus route – on the three-route 50km Bristol Metrobus [routeone/6 March]

BCT, part of social enterprise HCT Group, which operates contracts in London Jersey, Guernsey and Leeds, will operate the route under contract to First West of England, which already holds the contracts for routes m2 and m3.

James Freeman (First West of England), Dai Powell (HCT Group), Councillor Mhairi Threlfall (Bristol City Council) and Councillor Colin Hunt (South Gloucestershire Council)

BCT will creating 60 new driver and support jobs at its Bedminster depot and has invested £7m in a fleet of 21 Scania/ADL biogas ‘deckers for the m1 route.

BCT already runs four bus routes in Bristol, operating under contract to Bristol City Council. It will reinvest all profits into community projects.

First West of England MD James Freeman says: “This is a really innovative operating model. We believe that this is the first time in England that operators have been contracted to each other in the interests of keeping things simple for the public.”

The news comes at the same time Metrobus announced that First Bristol will start operating route m3 on 29 May, making Bristol the first city outside London that has a fast ‘buy before you board’ service with speedier boarding and faster journeys.

First is offering 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 initial timetable will operate every 20 minutes (0600-1900hrs) and every 30 minutes until 2100hrs Mondays-Saturdays, until September when a more comprehensive timetable starts.

Although First and BCT have signed to operate Metrobus services, Metrobus is an ‘open access’ scheme, which allows any operator to operate a service – provided they sign up to meet strict operating standards on emissions, timings, cleanliness, and operation, and register a service giving 56 days’ notice.

Metrobus operators are not contracted to the councils in any way – they are taking the commercial risk, nor do they have exclusivity on any route.

Valid tickets bought on the Metrobus network are accepted on the rest of the First West of England network in Bristol, and vice versa tickets bought on First services (particularly mTickets) are valid throughout on Metrobus routes. Likewise, Avonrider multi-operator tickets are available for use on Metrobus and the local bus service of all operators, including First, Abus, Stagecoach, Bath Bus Company, BCT and others. The aim is to make travel really easy and seamless for everybody. 

With the brand new iPoints ticket machines at every stop – Metrobus is believed to be the only place outside London where to make sure that stopping times are minimised passengers must buy their tickets before boarding – the new services will offer reduced journey times wherever traffic allows.