The second Metrobus route has launched today (Monday, September 3).
The M2 route has been the most controversial and most delayed of the routes, but the buses are ready, the road is ready and even the guided rails are ready.
The route will provide a link between south west Bristol and the city centre, and could make a serious impact on life in several communities along its route.
There has been a lot of column inches devoted to whether the M2 route can or will adequately provide a service for fans getting to and from Ashton Gate Stadium, which it passes, and whether it will enable increased use of the Long Ashton Park and Ride.
But, finally, it is here – and here is everything you need to know about the M2 Metrobus route.
What time will it run?
The M2 bus is primarily a commuter and shopper park and ride service for North Somerset and south west Bristol.
It runs Monday to Saturday – and not on Sundays or Bank Holidays.
From Monday to Friday, the first M2 leaves Long Ashton park and ride at 6am, with a bus running every 12 minutes for the first hour.
From 7am until 9am, the M2 will run every 10 minutes, before returning to an ‘every 12 minutes’ service for the daytime. From 4pm until 6.50pm, the service resumes running every 10 minutes.
From 7pm it will run every 20 minutes.
The last Metrobus M2 leaves Long Ashton Park and Ride at 9.30pm, and that last bus begins the ‘return’ journey in the city centre loop from Cabot Circus at around 9.51pm.
On Saturdays, the service still begins at 6am, but runs every 20 minutes until 10am.
From 10am, it runs every 12 minutes until 6.12pm, when it reverts to every 20 minutes for the rest of the evening.
Where does it go?
South of the River
The M2 starts at the Long Ashton Park and Ride, the huge 1,500-space car park on the A370 Long Ashton bypass, which is just over the border in North Somerset.
There are then two more stops in south Bristol – the first on the western edge of Ashton Vale, next to a site close to the allotments which is about to see a fairly major council-led housing development.
The second South Bristol stop is called ‘Ashton Gate’, and is to the west of Paxton Drive, a cul-de-sac development of flats that is just off the A370 Brunel Way.
This is a stop for the UWE Bower Ashton campus, and for Ashton Court, as well as Ashton Gate stadium.
The route south of the river also includes the a flyover section dubbed ‘the Winterstoke Road rollercoaster’, as it rises up and over the Bristol-Portishead rail line as it turns from north to west to run parallel to Winterstoke Road and Ashton Gate stadium, then drops down and turns north again, beneath the Brunel Way/Winterstoke Road junction.
This mile and a half section of the M2 route has guided bus rails, which in theory mean the buses can travel more quickly. Problems with the bespoke rails have delayed the launch of the M2 by more than a year.
The Ashton Swing Bridge
The M2 route then crosses the Ashton Swing Bridge, a listed bridge that was saved and refurbished as part of the Metrobus project.
The clearance under the bridge’s metal arches is too low for regular double decker buses to travel, so the buses used by operator First have had to be specially-adapted with the guide rails and to be low enough to clear through the bridge.
The route north of the river
The M2 route joins regular roads at this point for the first time. It has three stops on Spike Island, the narrow stretch of land between the New Cut River Avon and Bristol’s floating harbour: at Cumberland Basin, just yards from the Swing Bridge, then next to the Spike Island Artspace (the stop is called SS Great Britain) and then next to the recently-created Wapping Wharf development of restaurants and flats.
The route then crosses a specially-constructed second bridge over the Bristolurst Basin inlet, opposite the Louisiana pub. This bridge ended up costing the Metrobus far more than it should’ve done because of an administrative error led to the inadvertent creation of a parcel of land they had to buy but couldn’t compulsorily purchase.
The route then turns left at Bedminster Bridge roundabout, with another stop at Redcliffe Hill.
At the Redcliffe roundabout by St Mary Redcliffe church, the M2 route then begins a one-way loop around the city centre.
Buses from south Bristol will then turn right along Redcliffe Way with the next stop on the other side of the Temple Circus junction. This stop is marked ‘Temple Meads’, but is a six minute walk to the station through the recent Temple Quay development.
The M2 route then continues north up Temple Way, stopping at the rear of Cabot Circus, just north of the Old Market roundabout, again on Bond Street, for Cabot Circus, and again in Rupert Street for a stop called ‘Broadmead’.
The M2 route then stops in The Centre, near the Cenotaph, and again in Prince Street (for Queen Square), before returning to Redcliffe and back out to Long Ashton again.
What buses will the M2 replace?
Metrobus say the the M2 is a direct replacement for the 903 Long Ashton Park and Ride service. This bus has run from the park and ride into the city centre since the park and ride opened 25 years ago.
It runs on regular roads and crosses the river at Cumberland Basin before travelling in to the centre via Anchor Road.
Because of the one-way loop in the city centre travelling the other way, the time taken to get to the nearest stop to Anchor Road and the centre with the new M2 is a lot longer than the 903 took.
The M2 service will not replace the regular 24 bus run by First, which is a local service from Ashton Vale, through Bedminster and Southville, the city centre and out to Easton and Lockleaze before ending at Southmead Hospital.
Passengers in Ashton Vale have expressed concern that, ultimately, the M2 bus will mean First cut their provision of the 24, but First have reassured people in Ashton Vale this will not happen.
How long will it take?
A journey from Long Ashton park and ride to Bristol Temple Meads will take 14 minutes (plus a six minute walk into the station from the Temple Way stop.
A journey from Long Ashton park and ride to Broadmead takes 24 minutes.
A journey from Ashton Vale to Broadmead on the number 24 bus takes 28 minutes via Bedminster and Redcliffe.
The nearest similar journey, from Ashton Vale to Broadmead via Cabot Circus on the M2 will take 22 minutes, so even though it travels all the way around the city centre, it is still six minutes quicker than the 24’s meander through BS3.
How do you get a ticket?
One of the main differences between Metrobus and regular bus services in Bristol is that you have to buy your ticket before you step on board – the driver cannot sell you a ticket.
Regular First Bus day riders, week, month and year tickets are accepted, as is the Bristol Rider and Rider tickets that are accepted on different operator buses.
A new Metrobus iPoint at Long Ashton
A TravelWest smartcard is also accepted on board, and tickets from the First Bus mTicket phone app are also accepted.
For those without phone apps and smartcards, you can buy a ticket at a shop with the PayPoint or PayZone facility AND at the Metrobus bus stop. Every bus stop has an iPoint machine which provides information and sells tickets. You have to pay with a credit or debit card (no cash).
How much are tickets?
A single journey in one Metrobus zone is £1.50 for an adult, £1 for student or under 21, and 75p for a child.
A single journey across two Metrobus zones (although the outer zone is only the bit from Long Ashton park and ride to Ashton Vale) is £2.50 for an adult, £1.75 and then £1.25.
So, for someone parking up at Long Ashton park and ride and wanting a return to Temple Meads or the city centre, it will be cheaper to buy a £4 day rider.
Courtesy of BristolPost