The new Metrobus service, the m3, has set out on its maiden voyage today filled with passengers.
It will be the first route of the £230m rapid transit system which will go live at the end of the month and marks the beginning of one of the largest projects of its kind in the city region.
Operated by First West of England, m3 will provide public transport from Emersons Green in South Gloucestershire to the city centre. First has invested some £10m in vehicles as part of the Metrobus development.
The launch was originally planned for the end of 2017, but due to ticketing problems and cost increases, it's been pushed back several times.
Officially unveiling the m3 at Bristol & Bath Science Park, James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, said: “This is a landmark for local public transport and, in particular, for the bus in the city region. Metrobus combines low emissions, new customer-facing technologies and infrastructure on a massive scale.
"It will revolutionise public transport with faster journeys and a much higher standard in passenger experience. It provides the foundation on which we can build a public transport system fit for the future in the city region which is the powerhouse of the regional economy.”
The unveiling of the m3 comes in the same week that First announced its MYFIRSTMILE trial to provide car commuters living in Henleaze and Westbury Park with the UK’s first integrated cab-bus service to take them from home to work without having to worry about parking, at an inclusive charge.
Added Freeman: “We are planning to continue our fleet transformation programme, which over the past two years has led to the arrival of almost 150 brand new vehicles, equipped with the cleanest Euro VI engines, which improve air quality along the routes they operate. We are also looking to grow convenient, cashless payments further so that eventually the great majority of all tickets will be purchased this way.”
m3 will officially go in service on Sunday 29 May and will offer free travel until 9 June to give as many people as possible the opportunity to experience the premium Metrobus service.
"From 9th June m3, as with all Metrobus routes, will operate on a simple zonal fare structure with single journey tickets in a single zone priced at £1.50, making it one of the cheapest single journey fares in the country. An all-zone single journey is priced at £2.50. A day ticket is priced at just £4.
Tickets can be purchased off-bus using First’s popular mobile m-ticket app, via smartcard available online, which can be topped up at Payzone shops or at new iPoint ticket machines that will be installed at every stop along the route.
Existing First paper tickets bought via Paypoint shops are also accepted on Metrobus, as are concessionary passes. It means Metrobus will be the only place outside London to operate a buy-before-you-board service.
Metrobus tickets can be used equally on the First West of England network in Bristol and vice versa, tickets bought on First services (including mTickets) can be used on Metrobus routes. To make travel even more easy and seamless, bus users will also be able to use the Avonfare all-operator ticket on Metrobus and all local bus services.
This week it was also announced that the m2 route will start in service in the autumn and m1 will follow early in 2019.