More 48s and 49s – but 47 bus is axed

ANOTHER revamp of bus services will see an increase in the number of 48 and 49 services linking Downend and Staple Hill to the city centre from April.

But only half of those services will continue to Emersons Green – and the last direct service to Yate, the 47, is being axed just six months after it was introduced.

Operator First and Metro Mayor Dan Norris say more than 1,600 hours of bus journeys in Bristol every week, which were cut in November due to driver shortages, are being reinstated from April 2, as a result of a £7 million investment under the West of England Combined Authority’s Bus Service Improvement Plan.

From Monday to Saturday there will be four 48s an hour from Downend to the centre and four 49s from Staple Hill, with two buses per hour on each service on Sundays.

In the opposite direction, every other 48 will terminate at the Horseshoe in Downend and every other 49 at Page Park in Staple Hill, with only half of the services going on to Emersons Green.

First says bus destination displays will indicate where each bus will terminate. 

And neither the 48 nor the 49 will go to Lyde Green any more – the only bus service to the estate will be the metrobus m3.

First says it is axing the 47, less than six months after it was introduced, due to “low passenger numbers”.

A new WECA-subsidised hourly service, the 525, will be operated by Stagecoach between Emersons Green, Pucklechurch, Westerleigh and Yate but will not pass through Shortwood village.

The end of the 47 also means that the bus link between Oldbury Court and Downend has been lost.

First says it is extending its use of new artificial intelligence (AI) scheduling software to improve punctuality across a range of services.

Managing director Doug Claringbold said: “These new timetables will significantly increase the service we offer our customers and I’m confident that our investment in new technology will also continue to improve punctuality.

“We will also be reinstating journeys in Bristol that we had to temporarily suspend last year, as we are starting to see the effect of our major driver recruitment and retention campaign.”

Mr Norris said the increase in services meant Fishponds Road would have a frequency of ten buses an hour at peak times, which meant passengers could “turn up and go” without needing to check a timetable.

Some evening services on the 17 route to Southmead Hospital, Kingswood and Keynsham will be cut back after losing a subsidy from councils made via the West of England Combined Authority – although First says daytime services will continue, with a “revised timetable to improve punctuality”.

Mr Norris called on local councils to increase their support for routes that were not commercially viable, but said they had recently reduced the amount they spent on routes via the transport levy, adding: “Less cash cannot equal more buses.”