Belles Express - North Bristol-Gloucester service

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by Class 33, 30 Apr 2015.

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  1. Class 33

    Class 33 Established Member

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    I made a return journey on this yesterday afternoon, making use of a free return ticket I had. From my observations the service doesn't exactly seem to be doing a roaring trade! On the outbound journey there was only one other passenger! And on the homeward journey I was the ONLY passenger!(if it wasn't for me that particular service would have had no passengers atall!). Apart from that though, a nice comfortable journey to Gloucester and back.
     
  2. extendedpaul

    extendedpaul Member

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    I'd planned to try it the other week but explorer tickets aren't accepted and it wasn't worth paying £8 for a ride to Cribbs Causeway and back.

    I did see one leave Gloucester about midday with just two or three people on board.

    I don't think it serves enough places to be a success.
     
  3. Class 33

    Class 33 Established Member

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    When I got off at UWE it went straight out again with the 1715 to Gloucester. Chances are there would have been no one on that service all the way to Gloucester!

    I think they need to promote it more. And think they need to modify the route. Maybe extended to/from central Bristol instead. Think they might not have permission to run from Bristol bus station, and/or there could be capacity issues. So maybe the terminating point could be Broadmead Lewins Mead. Also, not sure what the point of stopping off at Gloucester Waterwells Park & Ride is?

    An example segment of a timetable could be

    BRISTOL, Broadmead(Lewins Mead) 0900
    UWE, North Bristol 0915
    SGS Filton College 0928
    Cribbs Causeway, The Mall 0935
    Aztec West, Aztec Hotel 0942
    GLOUCESTER, Bus Station 1022


    Yes, it takes about 20-30 minutes longer than the train between Bristol and Gloucester. But some people travelling between the two cities wouldn't mind that much a little longer journey. And in the case of Broadmead/central area of Bristol, it wouldn't really take that much longer anyway. Would be about the same time really. What with having to get a bus from Broadmead/central area to Temple Meads, and allowing enough time to get your intended train.

    Would be a shame if passenger volumes don't pick up and the service gets axed.
     
    Last edited: 2 May 2015
  4. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Established Member

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    I would have thought it would make more sense to serve cheltenham?
     
  5. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    In preference to Gloucester? Tbf, Gloucester is the bigger population.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I reckon it's the same issue as the X7 Newport to Bristol. Those fit and able will probably find it easy to get into town from TM and still find that quicker than the bus. The pensioners won't want to pay and it's not ENCTS valid. Therefore, they're looking at competing where they do have an advantage (I.e. Cribbs) over the train though with the Quays, perhaps Gloucester's shopping is slightly better than Newport and Chepstow?
     
  6. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Best of all shopping wise (from what I am told - I don't go into the city if I can't help it!) is that the Quays are nice, but overall, Cheltenham is much better for shopping.

    It must be said that the Quays are about a 20 minute walk from the vile hole that is the bus station though.
     
  7. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Established Member

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    Or as well as?
     
  8. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    Fair enough but will need another vehicle.
     
  9. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Established Member

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    Unless you reduced the frequency.

    In terms of the route and looking at a map, could it go via Stroud and Chipping Sodbury to serve more towns? Or in the realms of fantasy, extend to Plymouth, with a Cheltenham driver as far as Exeter, change to an Exeter driver to Plymouth and back to Exeter then the Cheltenham driver takes it back to Cheltenham. Just an idea!
     
  10. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    Indeed, but if you reduce the frequency, do you reduce the attractiveness of the service?

    As for it going via Stroud and Chipping Sodbury, that's a fairly massive detour. Using trusty Google Maps, the current 31 miles (along motorway for the most part) would be 49 miles of A roads and worse.
     
  11. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Established Member

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    If you went below hourly probably yes. As for the route I'm not sure but if there isn't sufficient end to end traffic it will need to pickup somewhere else i.e. Stroud
     
  12. Class 33

    Class 33 Established Member

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    Don't really see the point of it going via Chipping Sodbury and Stroud. That would add on about an hour journey time! And could then hardly be called a Belles Express service! Allthough they could maybe run a seperate slower service as well which went via Chipping Sodbury and Stroud.

    Journey times of 50 minutes from Filton College and Cribbs Causeway to Gloucester is pretty good. And in my imagined example 1 hour 22 minutes from central Bristol is also pretty good really. They need to stick with these fast express journey times, but also may incorporate/add some additional stops in the North Bristol area with competitive journey times compared to getting the train. For example maybe Westbury and Henbury, or Gloucester Road/Horfield Common, running from Broadmead.

    Also I wonder if the UWE stop is actually needed? Do many people use the service to travel between UWE and Gloucester?
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2015
  13. DanTrainMan185

    DanTrainMan185 Established Member

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    There is a UWE campus in Hartpury, not sure if it serves that but if so there is a link between the two campuses.
     
  14. freetoview33

    freetoview33 Established Member

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    And between the two main SGS campuses at Stroud and Filton
     
  15. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    It's a difficult one but keeping the hourly frequency means an extension to Bristol effectively puts up the costs by 50%.

    Commuters might not want to travel by coach not least because the train saves 30 mins if not more in peaks. You might get the leisure market (shopping) but then again, if they're not going to Cribbs, will they be any more likely to Cabot?
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2015
  16. DanTrainMan185

    DanTrainMan185 Established Member

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    From my research for my dissertation, most respondents said Cabot had more to offer. Cribbs was purely for John Lewis and free parking.
     
  17. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    Whilst I agree with you (and I was one of your respondents) about the relative attractiveness of Cribbs vs Cabot, the X7 experience kinda runs contrary to that. Can have a decker full out of Chepstow with most folks decamping at Cribbs.
     
  18. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Established Member

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    All well an good keeping it as a fast Gloucester-Bristol service but if it isn't picking up the passengers it won't be able to run.
     
  19. DanTrainMan185

    DanTrainMan185 Established Member

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    I think that's purely on the basis that it is only half an hour from Chepstow to Cribbs, which is pretty impressive. Furthermore, Cribbs is all under one roof so I can see why the elder population like it.

    As for the Belle's Express, I saw it arrive into UWE yesterday evening with not a single person on board. It's really not taking off as well as it would have liked to, is it?!
     
  20. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    It's 20 mins from Chepstow to Cribbs :)

    Those are all valid reasons but it just highlights the truth of the matter. The fact is that people will travel from Newport to Cribbs (50 mins) yet not yet embracing Gloucester to Cribbs (55 mins), and that people prefer (despite your research?) to get off at Cribbs rather than head into the city centre.

    Also, if you're alluding to the twirly passengers....well the fact that concessions have to pay to use the Belle's Express is also a probable turnoff. The Geralds and Maureens will prefer to head from Gloucester to Cheltenham for a FREE day out, I suspect!
     
  21. Martin2012

    Martin2012 Member

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    Out of interest does anyone know if the Belles Express is very well used by students attending SGS Filton?

    Given the fact that most students who live in Yate seem to opt for the train, despite a direct bus stopping right outside the college and the Bristol to Dursley route no longer serves that area, I personally can't see the Belles Express being anymore well used.
     
  22. Class 33

    Class 33 Established Member

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    I don't think passenger volumes will pick up much atall. And the service will have to be axed within a few months. I doubt they'll consider modifying or extending the route either.

    It is a shame that a bus operator creates and introduces a brand new service. A service which they think will be very popular. But then hardly anyone uses it! A shame really.

    I will be up at Cribbs Causeway within the next few days or so. I'll time my visit to catch sighting of a Belles Express departing there on the hour, and see how many(if any!!) passengers are onboard it!
     
  23. DanTrainMan185

    DanTrainMan185 Established Member

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    Oh it is indeed! See I did think it was but I couldn't remember if it was 20 or 30 minutes.

    Probably because Cribbs and Cabot offer almost exactly the same service, and on that route Cribbs is closer so they'd just go there.

    Possibly so!

    It's probably going to be like an X74 scenario. Slow to start off with, but once up and running fully, it'll kick off well!
     
  24. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    I don't know if it will. The X74 already had established flows, whether that be UWE to town (70) or Sadly to town (73). This is completely new.

    You could highlight the comparisons with the X7 but as we've said before there are some differences (not least that it's been in existence for nearly 40 years). However, you've got TWO main sources of passengers (Newport and Chepstow) rather than just one. Also, Gloucester/Cheltenham has better shopping than those two places so that may suppress demand. Concessionary passes are valid on the X7 whilst Belle's requires payment.

    I can't comment on the level of publicity locally in the Gloucester area but wonder if they'd have been better just charging £1 per trip as an introductory pump priming exercise for the first month?

    However, it does highlight how wrong the idea is of "build it and they will come"; it's a lot more complex than that. This looks a bit of a long shot (oddly, as Stagecoach are usually very good in identifying new markets) but I hope it comes right.
     
    Last edited: 8 May 2015
  25. Martin2012

    Martin2012 Member

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    A Belle's Express vehicle passed me in the Filton Abbeywood area last night at around 1700 whilst I was waiting at the stop opposite the McDonalds.

    There looked to be one other passenger on at the most.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It looks as though Stagecoach might be about to make seats for the Belle's Express service available to book through the Megabus website

    Although no journeys are available to currently book,the Megabus website now has stops at Aztec West, Filton and Cribbs Causeway available for selection and Gloucester as a journey destination.
     
  26. Class 33

    Class 33 Established Member

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    I seen it today. With the incoming 1500 Gloucester-Cribbs Causeway service. Of which about 5 people were disembarking. And departing with the 1600 Cribbs Causeway-Gloucester service were about 7 or 8 passengers, and all but one of them were pensioners.

    Passenger volumes might slowly pick up over the coming months maybe.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I saw the Belles Express today again. At Cribbs Causeway with the incoming 1000 Gloucester-Cribbs Causeway service. Could see there were about 7 or 8 people on it, all of whom appeared to be pensioners! Though sadly it appeared it would have departed with the 1100 Cribbs Causeway-Gloucester empty. I didn't hang about to see it depart, but at just a couple of minutes ahead of 1100 there was no one waiting at the bus stop for it.

    Passenger volumes appear to be picking up a LITTLE since last month when I used it. But appears to be mostly pensioners using it at the mo!
     
  27. freetoview33

    freetoview33 Established Member

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    7/8! Wow that is positively full!
     
  28. carlberry

    carlberry Member

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    As the free bus pass isnt valid on the service the number of pensioners isnt the same issue as on most services.

    The only journeys that need to carry decent numbers are the peak ones to Aztec West/UWE and, obviously, Stagecoach have a target number to get over a certain time (the same as Kings Ferry from North Somerset) and, if the idea works, there are even other possibilities from the area around junction 13. The Cribbs journeys just keep a vehicle employed and may even become worthwhile with 7/8 passengers!
     
  29. Class 33

    Class 33 Established Member

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    I just had a quick look on the Megabus website. And these fares are now available to book. The random day I just searched for, all the fares are showing as £1 singles!

    This will get these services more passengers over the coming weeks and months. As more people discover they can book journeys between Bristol and Gloucester, especially for as cheap as £2 return.
     
    Last edited: 15 May 2015
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