Here are some shots from a train journey from Oxford to Bristol. Starting from Oxford, which has a rack of secure bike lockers for bikes that are valued.
Next to that, there is the covered parking. Enough room for a few hundred bikes. In Bristol, getting to Temple Meads is half the problem. The route from the railway path is down, the bypass had police "no cycling" signs up until the council told them to stop it, and the roads outside are some of the most dangerous in the city. And then there is the challenge of parking your bike or getting it onto a platform. Whereas in Oxford, the problem is remembering where you left your bike.
And what's that in the distance? A bus? Yes -a red bus. With all those London Transport connotations, of a bus/tube service that is designed to benefit the city, rather than some distant shareholders.
Whereas we in Bristol, we get FirstBus. And to get to Bristol, FirstGWR. Which turned out to be very nice, they even let me on an earlier train without any fuss.
I got to arrive in Bristol early, at 9 pm.
This was the London train; the premium train between Bristol and The Big City. Its a mid-evening train, so anyone who stopped off for a bit of food or drink after a day's work may be on it. The taxis know this, they all pile in waiting for customers. But me, I'm waiting for a bus. I could walk, but I have luggage and a note from my physiotherapist that says "don't". I'm waiting for the bus. Given that FirstBus and FirstGWR are part of the same company, we'd hope they know the train timetables too, and arrange for buses to integrate with the trains. And look, after only 15 minutes wait, a bus pulls in. And turns its lights off.
Those few of us who dont either walk off, get taxis, or get friends to pick them up by car are left waiting for another half an hour before eventually the bus turns its lights on and decides to go.
The lesson for this is simple: don't rely on FirstBus/FirstGWR to do any co-ordination. What's interesting is to think, why not? Why don't FirstBus not only schedule buses to be in the station for when the trains come in, but even have announcements on the train advertising this. It's almost like they don't want to make money. And clearly, compared to the London experience, they don't want to provide a service for the citizens of Bristol.
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I've just discovered that First has stopped the No 73 running through to Temple Meads. So Bristol's first showcase bus route, boho eco-friendly zone and generally liberal residential and recreational area no longer has a single bus service which runs to the major rail station. Instead, it's a 10-minute, two-pound hop to Broadmead, another wait, then another 10-minute, two-pound hop to Temple Meads. Forget it!
Aren't London buses also run by Firstgroup these days?
Wikipedia implies that First London run some of the bus lines. I don't know how oystercard billing integrates here, as you can use them or all day passes without worrying about who runs the service.
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