Bristol has got bendy buses Boris Johnson didn't want
BRISTOL has its first fleet of bendy buses – nine-year-old rejects from London that have fewer seats.
The buses, serving the Brislington Park and Ride near the A4 off Stockwood Road, also finish earlier in the day and run less often at the busiest times than the double-deckers they have replaced.
London-based transport operator CT Plus has taken over the park and ride contract from First, which ran double deckers on the route into the city centre for 18 years.
The new 904 service started yesterday. The new contract costs council tax payers £695,000-a-year – less than the £818,000 paid to First. But a number of cutbacks have been made, partly as a result of the £2 million worth of savings Bristol City Council has to make on its transport service.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
â Peak time buses now run every 12 minutes instead of every eight.
â The buses can carry around 150 people compared to 90 on double deckers – but there are fewer seats so more people have to stand.
â The last bus back from the centre is 7.09pm, an hour and a half earlier than before.
Bendy buses get their nick name because, like a train, they are essentially two carriages connected by a concertina.
The buses were originally used by Hackney-based CT Plus on London routes during the last decade, and had yellow corporate branding.
Ridding London's streets of bendy buses was a key election pledge of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who claimed they were not suited to the capital's roads and had twice as many accidents as normal buses.
The vehicles have now been given a lick of paint in Bristol Blue, to match the old double decker designs.
They have also had a refit inside, been upgraded to produce fewer harmful emissions and have another 10 years before they need to be replaced.
The same company has been awarded the contract for the 902 Portway park and ride service, due to relaunch in April.
The Evening Post has also learned that CT Plus does not have a south west bus operator's licence. Instead the park and ride service is registered to a depot in London.
Although the buses are kept on the Barton Hill Trading Estate, it means that if they were to need an MOT, it would have to be carried out in the capital.
The council says this was due to a backlog of paperwork and that the proper local licence should be achieved within a matter of days.
The authority was faced with a major funding crisis in its public transport department earlier this year. It had tried to put all of the services it helps fund out to tender at the same time, in a bid to increase competition and save money.
This didn't work though, and added to a cut in funding from the government, new head of transport Councillor Tim Kent found he had to make £2 million of savings.
The increases in park and ride are one of the measures being introduced to avoid having to make deeper cuts elsewhere.
Mr Kent said: "Having travelled with passengers on some of the first of the new buses people seemed to be satisfied with the new service. Everyone could get a seat, whereas before many stood, time spent at stops was far less.
"Traditionally, the buses were more frequent, but too many passengers were left stranded at stops while buses went by. The new bendy buses have the capacity to ensure this no longer occurs.
"Capacity is of paramount importance on a park and ride service – as is ease of boarding and alighting. Both headaches have been solved with the new service."
A council spokeswoman added that the longer buses will solve a previous problem with the service.
She said: "Complaints had been received that passengers were being left behind in the evening peak, particularly at the Redcliffe Way and Temple Meads stops. "Sometimes this happened despite the buses not being full, due to passengers wishing to crowd downstairs rather than use the seats available upstairs on the double deck buses."
CT Plus service manger in Bristol, Donna Dixon, said: "Everyone at CT Plus is very excited that we are now working in Bristol. We operate from ten depots across the country and have an excellent track record in all our locations.
"Our first day delivering the A4 Bath Road Park and Ride has gone well, but we know we can do even better in the days to come as we bed down the service.
"As a social enterprise, we're looking forward to really getting to know the city and its community, working with local stakeholders to deliver a first class service."