Friday, June 23, 2006

Bus sto...o...o...o...op

Stopping for ages at bus stops without explanation.
Worst ever this morning.

Not just in one place. We stopped for a long time at virtually every other bus stop down Filton Avenue.

One or two people get on. They sit down. And the bus doesn't pull away for another couple of minutes. (At least they don't get thrown to the ground as the bus lurches into action before they've sat down.)

I'm guessing the drivers do this to make sure the buses aren't running ahead of schedule.
But I also guess the timetables are written with bags of slack - so that when the traffic is heavy they're still "on time".

Why do they keep the timings the same for buses in the rush hour and buses at quieter times? Just means that when the roads are clear, and passengers have the opportunity to sail in and out of town, we still have to trundle along in a bus-company-generated invisible imaginary traffic jam.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I caught the bus at 0850 this morning
Asked for a day ticket
The driver charged me £3.50
(The price is supposed to be £4.40 until 0900)
I looked puzzled
He smiled and said (in an accent I couldn't identify)
"only a little bit early"


Monday, June 19, 2006

no sign of break down

Frustrating one this.
Happened a couple of weeks ago.
(Been a bit busy - haven't been posting v regularly)

I'm waiting in the centre. Evening rush hour nearing an end.
There's two buses I could catch. The 73 (stops everywhere) or the last X84 of the day (supposed to zoom up the M32).

There's a 73 at the bus stop. Shall I catch it because I know it's here? Or shall I wait for X84 - due in another 2 minutes, but not guaranteed to show up?

I was about to play safe and catch the 73, when I spot the X84 arriving in the centre, and pulling over about 50 yards short of the bus stop. Great.

So I let the 73 go and wait for the 2 minutes to elapse, so I can catch the (fast) X84.

2 minutes goes.
5 minutes goes.
10 minutes now. Should I be worried? Not looking good.
But at least the X84 is still clearly just a few yards away. And the timetable clearly says it's due.

Walked up the the X84. There's a driver in the cab!! Why on earth is it still waiting?

Tapped on the door window. Driver opens door.
"I broken down. I'm not going anywhere."


Three problems here
1. Rubbish old buses that pack up when they're supposed to be taking me home.
2. The driver left the "X84" sign clearly showing in the window (The "sorry this bus is not in service" sign would have made things clear to everyone and I would have caught the 73 and be on my way home by now.)
3. No apology. The driver could easily have walked a few yards to the bus stop (I wasn't the only one waiting there) and said "I'm very sorry - the X84 has broken down - you'll have to catch a different bus."

Not just slow, unreliable and lacking in common courtesy, but I was frustratingly late getting home again.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Evening Post

Just back from a few days on holiday... and the Evening Post's top story grabs my attention. The leader of the city council wants the buses to be cheaper.

Lots of good Bristol Bus Stories in response to the coverage on the Evening Post website.

"I used to use First's dire "services". Now I'll cycle, walk or crawl to avoid them. I only resent that I still have to breathe in their filthy fumes" says a mature student.

You can get your bus experiences off your chest here - click the "comments" link below and add your Bristol Bus Story. The best stories will be republished here on the front page.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ring off

A message for the passenger at the front of this morning's 73 to Bristol City Centre (arrived c0925):

Next time you need to listen to your mobile phone's entire repertoire of ring-tones, please could you do it at home with the door and windows closed, and not on the bus.

We were already suffering from the infuriating effects of a not-the-slightest-bit-personal-stereo at the back of the bus, before you started a Rolf Harris stylophone bleeping rendition of Classic FM's greatest hits.

Thank you.

In a hurry? Make sure your bus is late.

More than once I've been on a bus heading into the centre of Bristol and everything appears to be running extremely smoothly. But then, one stop away from "the centre", the driver waits for ages and ages before setting off to complete the final few yards of the journey.

I asked a driver in this situation what he thought he was doing... for once he had the chance to arrive in good time?

He explained that they're not allowed to arrive early. Unbelieveable. Having zoomed happily down unusually empty roads all the way along the route, he was now afraid that he might be punished if an inspector saw him driving ahead of schedule. So we had to sit for about 15 minutes, doing absolutely nothing. Inefficiency at its most ridiculous and frustrating.

The same thing happens heading out of town on an X (express) service. We belt up the M32. "What a good idea to have an express route" the passengers are all thinking. Then, at UWE, the bus stops for almost 20 minutes, before proceeding to Parkway Station.

The timetables are written with hours of slack to allow the service to be called "on time" when the traffic is heavy and slow. So when all is smooth - instead of enjoying a journey in good time - the passengers have to spend ages sitting on a stationary bus, doing nothing.

On one occassion I was lucky enough to be carrying a "day ticket". So I got off the stupid-not-going-anywhere bus, and caught the one behind to the last stop. (I think that bus was running late - it was so much quicker.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I was driving a car this morning (so dull compared with the bus - but such control of my destiny). At a roundabout the driver of a First double decker bus smiled and waved me through infront of him. Extremely well mannered.

There must be better bus stories out there today. Add yours by using the "comments" button below. Best contributions will be republished here on the blog front page.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Just posted a message on a BBC message board about the buses in Bristol.
(Welcome if you've joined us from there.)

As on other chat pages, so many people seem to be unhappy with the state of Bristol's bus service.

The idea of this weblog is to collect stories and anecdotes. (It isn't really a place for straightforward grumbling about, or praising of, the quality of the service.)

So if you recall any surprising, extraordinary, astonishing, funny, appalling or delightful happenings whilst on, or waiting for, a Bristol bus... please add your story, by using the comments button below.

The best stories will be re-published on the main Bristol Bus Stories front page. And together they should provide an entertaining picture of Bristol's bus using experience.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Have you seen them?

They're in the papers, they're on their own website and they're entertaining passengers on Bristol's buses.

Have you seen First FREE Bus?

They describe themselves as political performance pranksters. Their costumes look like air hostess uniforms in a FirstBus (purple, pink, white, blue) colourscheme. They promise to bring in-flight entertainment onto the buses.

They claim that many passengers (and even a driver) are fooled into thinking they are genuine First Bus employees. But as their song and dance routine unfolds - the bus company becomes the butt of the joke.

I love the idea of free entertainment on the buses. Such a liberating antidote to the unwritten British rule of silence between strangers on public transport. But I can't help thinking this crowd might get into a bit of trouble - particularly because of the way they're imitating FirstBus logos and lettering.

If you've spotted them in action - please add your account of the experience to in the comments section below. As always - best contributions will be re-published in the main text of the Bristol Bus Stories blog.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Light hearted

I was on a bus that was waiting in the centre (why do they stop for about 20 minutes without explanation sometimes?). The only other passenger on the lower deck was a blind man with a guide dog. It suddenly clouded over - really dark. The driver commented on how dark it was and put the interior lights on above the seating area. The blind man laughed, and said "Thanks - I can hear you much better now".

Friday, May 05, 2006

Students Queueing Up

Found an online petition on the UWE Student Union website.
725 people have left comments.
Mostly plain old grumbles about Bristol's buses.
But there are a few stories in there.

(Slightly worried by some of the spelling and grammar here.
These are supposed to be university students!)


I got so fed up last year waiting around when it was freezing and then being greeted by rude, grumpy bus drivers who refused to accept my student Id at times for lower fares, so I'm going to be driving this year! This creates more problems for uwe with parking spaces lacking on frenchay campus, so if buses were better a lot of people like me would not need to drive and take up valuable spaces!
Elyshia White

It was cheaper for me to buy and run a car last year. First Bus should be utterly ashamed.
Mr Paras

i have complained numerout ines, by phone, post and email and have never received a response, apart from the one time that my email got lost in their system and the sent me an e-mail 3 months later apologising for not responding. that was the last i heard from them.
jan gray

I think most of the problems stem from the traffic, not the buses. The road works at the M32 roundabout are a nightmare, and have made the X84 much less reliable than it used to be. I agree that some of the bus drivers are less than polite, though others go out of their way to be helpful. I have also heard some students being rude to bus drivers, and many students get off the bus without thanking the driver!
Jane Kay

Caught a 70 from UWE towards the centre today and was horrified by the noise the brakes were making, maintenance definetly needed on most buses i have been on lately.

I live on a route through Southmead and feel that they provide the buses and service to suit the area the client, I have never seen abus in poor condition mechanically or otherwise serve Clifton, for instance.
Bob Phillips

when on Filton Av an elderly gentleman and his wife boarded the bus the driver showed quite visible distain at the amount of time they took to board. Later on, when he went to leave the bus the driver stopped and opened his doors. When the man was near the door, the bus driver decided now was the time to park a little closer to the kerb, and did so. The sudden momentum change in the bus nearly toppled the man, and another bus goer had to help him out. The driver didn't say a word.

I come from London and i used to think the bus services were bad there; but now i've expereienced first bus i can say that London bus servive is like royalty.
Rohaan Ahmad


On some bus routes in Bristol they seem to use more old buses. Many times I've found myself feeling increasingly nauseous as the smell of exhaust fumes wafts around the inside of the bus. Seems particularly bad at the back of the lower deck of older double deckers. Are we being slowly poisoned?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mildly amusing

Not every Bristol Bus Travel Anecdote is about our satisfaction (or otherwise) with the service.

I was once on a 73 bus as it pulled into Bristol Parkway Station. A bloke in a hurry jumped on and asked "Is this bus going to the Mall?"

The driver said "No. The centre. The 73 to the Mall uses the other bus stop."

The bloke asks, "How long will the next bus be?"

The driver honestly looked slowly over his shoulder, down to the back of the bus, looked back to the bloke and said, "Almost exactly the same length as this one."


More than once I've been unable to get on a bus because I've been pushing a child in a buggy. On one occassion the driver clearly saw me folding the buggy up, ready to get on a bus, and pulled away. I heard a passenger (already on the bus, who'd seen me struggling) call to the driver to wait - but he deliberately drove off.

No change

Even in the evening rush hour (after thousands of passengers must have used hundreds of buses) I've been told by grumpy bus drivers that they have no change.

Last week I expressed my surprise at this state of affairs. "This is my first run!" I was told, in no uncertain terms.

Do the bus company never give drivers a float at the start of their shift?


I have often found that the buses in Bristol run a little behind schedule. Am I just unlucky? Or are quite a few buses delayed for one reason or another?


On a very few occassions I really have caught a bus within minutes of arriving at a bus stop. Been greeted by a friendly driver. Not been snarled at for only having a tenner. Had a seat. Not felt sick because of the smell of exhaust fumes. Not been alarmed by the speed or style of driving. Arrived on time.

It can happen.

But how often?

The idea

I only use the bus in Bristol (UK) about once a week. But my travels (or not) provide a steady supply of stories. How does your experience of Bristol's public transport compare?