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Bristol Community Transport unveiled as Metrobus m1 operator

Posted: 09 Apr 2018

A picture of Metrobus interiorBristol Community Transport, HCT Group’s operation in Bristol, has today been unveiled as the operator of the longest Metrobus route – the m1. MetroBus is a new rapid public transport system for the West of England region. The m1 connects south Bristol, the city centre, UWE and Cribbs Causeway.

We will be operating the m1 Metrobus route under contract to First West of England, and are investing in a fleet of 21 biogas buses running on gas generated from food waste – creating up to 60 new driver and support positions at our Bedminster depot. The drive for biogas, which has been led by First West of England who are already operating the pathfinder biogas bus in Bristol, is the first major investment in biogas buses in the area. It puts the region at the forefront of low emission bus operations powered by alternative fuel sources. A fact sheet on biogas with more information is here.

The operators for all the first three Metrobus routes have now been announced. In addition to the m1 service that will be operated by BCT, the other two routes, m2 and m3, will be operated directly by First West of England.

Meeting high emission standards is part of the Metrobus offer. The biogas vehicles that we will operate on the m1 will conform to stringent low emission standards. Indeed, all vehicles will conform to the emission standards that are laid down in the Quality Partnership Scheme. First West of England will be operating on Metrobus routes using the very clean Euro VI emission diesel buses at launch but these will be replaced by biogas buses within two years.

In a manner that is already well established in the area, each route has a designated colour to make it easy for passengers to recognise the route they want. The colours are magenta for m1, orange for m2 and green for m3. There will be spare vehicles sporting red colouring that will be used on any route.

The specially designed interiors have a new seat fabric, wi-fi and USB charging points while the specially-selected drivers will wear special Metrobus uniforms, quite different from any others in the city. A fact sheet on the new buses is here.

Although today’s announcement reflects the fact that both First West of England and BCT have signed up to operate Metrobus services, it should be remembered that Metrobus is an ‘open access’ scheme, which allows any bus operator to operate a Metrobus service – provided they sign up to meet strict operating standards on emissions, timings, cleanliness, and operation, and register a service giving 56 days’ notice. The Metrobus operators are not contracted to the councils in any way - they are taking the commercial risk, nor do they have exclusivity on any route.

Valid tickets bought on the Metrobus network are accepted on the rest of the First West of England network in Bristol, and vice versa – tickets bought on First services (particularly mTickets) are valid throughout on Metrobus routes. Likewise, Avonfare all-operator tickets are interavailable for use on Metrobus and the local bus service of all operators, including First, Abus, Stagecoach, Bath Bus Company, BCT and others. The aim is to make travel really easy and seamless for everybody.

With the brand new iPoint ticket machines at every stop - Metrobus is believed to be the only place outside London where, to make sure that stopping times are minimised, passengers must buy their tickets before boarding – the new services will offer reduced journey times wherever traffic allows.

Cllr Mhairi Threlfall (Bristol) said: “Bristol Community Transport is part of the world’s leading transport social enterprise company and we are delighted to have them as one of our Metrobus operators. They’re making a significant investment and commitment to Bristol that will see benefits here for many years to come.”

Cllr Colin Hunt (South Gloucestershire) said: “Cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and bus users are already experiencing the benefits that Metrobus has brought –we are now moving to the last phase with the m3 service registration and Bristol Community Transport unveiled as the m1 operator.”

Dai Powell, Chief Executive of HCT Group – parent group of Bristol Community Transport said: “We’re really excited by Metrobus and delighted to be a part of it. We think it’s going to make a real difference to people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. By providing a significant upgrade to the transport network, Metrobus creates a real opportunity to get people out of their cars and onto public transport – with all the environmental benefits that brings for people and planet.

“As a social enterprise, we don’t have shareholders and exist for community benefit. That means we will re-invest the money we make from Metrobus into services for elderly and disabled people in the area, which we hope will go some way towards meeting the increasing needs of these groups.”

James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England said: “We look forward to working in contract with BCT as operator of Metrobus m1. This is a really innovative operating model. We believe that this is the first time in England that operators have been contracted to each other in the interests of keeping things simple for the travelling public”

We will be investing £7 million in 21 biogas buses built largely in Britain by Scania and ADL and installing the necessary refuelling facilities. Grant aid of £1.6m has been received from the Department for Transport under the Low Emission Bus Scheme towards the overall investment. This is the first part of a much bigger scheme awarded by the DfT last year to provide biogas buses in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Dai Powell said: “We are looking forward to operate the m1 as soon as possible. Preparatory work on the necessary gas infrastructure has begun, and orders have already been placed to manufacture vehicles. As soon as the refuelling station is ready and the vehicles are delivered, we’re ready to operate the m1 service.’

Notes to editors

About Bristol Community Transport

Bristol Community Transport is a social enterprise that helps people in the local area to get out and about. It provides low-cost, accessible minibuses for the areas community groups, sports clubs and charities – providing close to 60,000 passenger trips last year. It also provides community buses for older and disabled people, helping them to access shops and healthcare, social activities and family occasions – also around 60,000 passenger trips last year – tackling loneliness and social isolation, making a real difference to people’s lives. As of March last year, Bristol Community Transport also provides the City’s dial-a-ride service - and a host of other community transport services.

Please visit for more information

About HCT Group

Bristol Community Transport is a part of the HCT Group, a social enterprise in the transport industry, safely providing over 23 million passenger trips on its buses every year. They deliver a range of transport services – from London red buses to social services transport, from school transport to whole bus networks, from community transport to education and training. They reinvest the profits from their commercial work into further transport services or projects in the communities they serve.

HCT Group is a multi-award winning social enterprise at genuine scale - across the country HCT Group employs over 1300 staff, operates a fleet of 625 vehicles and will post a 2017/18 turnover of around £62m.

For more information:

Julia Dean, Metrobus Communications Manager: 0117 428 6215

Frank Villeneuve-Smith
Communications Director, HCT Group
Direct line: 020 7608 8954 Mobile: 07891 960084