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.