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Aviador

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First defends proposed cuts to bus services

UNDER fire bus company First has defended its plans to axe two services in Weston.

The firm has been criticised this week after announcing cuts to the number four service from Hutton to Weston hillside and 121 service from Bristol Airport to Weston.

Weston MP John Penrose said he was 'deeply concerned' the changes will leave many people without access to public transport.

But Justin Davies, managing director of First Somerset and Avon, said a drop in passengers had left the company with no option but to propose the cuts.

He said: "While we understand that these changes won't be popular, they are necessary as the numbers of people using them do not make them sustainable in the long term.

"Like other businesses, we too feel the pressures of the tightening economy.

"In recent months we have seen a reduction in the number of people travelling for work and leisure purposes and this continues to have an impact on our business.

"We have looked carefully at the bus network in Weston and as a result we have registered some changes to the local network, the majority of which are designed to simplify it, with a view to making it easier for people to use it."

First is also proposing to combine the 3, 3a and 3c numbers into one service and the 5, 5a and 5c also into once service.

The changes, which will leave Hutton with no bus service, are set to come into effect on May 10.

For more information on the timetable changes log onto www.firstgroup.com/ukbus.

Source
This story slipped the net earlier in the month. It would seem that Firstgroup are feeling the pinch of the recession having decided to withdraw the 121 service from Bristol Airport to Weston.
 

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It's not quite what it seems.

The route 121 runs from Bristol to Weston-super-Mare via a circuitous route of villages.

It is really a service to give villagers a link with either Bristol or Weston and has been supported by the local authority. Its route just happens to call at the airport but few people use the bus for that purpose. In fact, few people use the route at all, hence the axing.

Bristol and Weston are connected by other direct First services that go nowhere near the airport and operate several times an hour.

The 121 operates every two hours and takes nearly two hours to cover the journey whereas the direct routes take around fifty minutes.
 

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North Somerset Unitary Authority has anounced this week that it has found some more money to subsidise the 121 service and it will continue, with First remaining the operator, although another company will do the Sunday service.

It still won't have much impact on the airport.

In fact, it is less attractive than before because recently, out of security concerns (don't ask, I can't see the reason either), the 121 (unlike the Airport Flyer) no longer picks up and sets down outside the main terminal. Instead, it uses a stop outside the old terminal (now an admin facility) which is half a mile from the new terminal. However, airport car park bendy-buses call regularly outside the old terminal to take anyone who doesn't want to walk to the new terminal and, unusually for BRS, they don't charge for this service.
 

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"Don't ask ? ? ?" I'm puzzled now! So all the other busses set down in front of the terminal except the 121 service which sets down in front of the old terminal because of security reasons? Hmm!?
 

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There aren't any other buses that serve BRS.

The Flyer, like the accredited airport taxis, is allowed through the manned double barrier to access the front of the terminal. All other taxis have to do the same as private cars and take a road away from the terminal front to the rapid pick-up (and drop-off) park. I think the first 10 mins are free - if you can get in and out that quickly.

The only thing I can think of is that the Flyer drivers have some form of identity or code or whatever to assure the barrier security man (haven't yet seen a woman there) they are kosher.

When I've been on the Flyer the drivers certainly have a conversation with the barrier operator and appear to hand something over.

Perhaps the 121 drivers do not just drive to the airport, they probably do other routes as well, and therefore aren't in the same position.

That said the 121 is operate by First and the Flyer by First Coaches on behalf of the airport.

I suspect the real reason is financial. The Flyer and airport taxis represent a financial asset to the airport and are therefore given perks.

Incidentally, my wife told me that at teatime today BBC 5 Live did a report on UK airports' extra charges and BRS came out very poorly with its charges for things like trolleys, fast-track security and plastic bags for liquids. She said the report reckoned the airport only allows their plastic bags to be used for conveying liquids.
 

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1 in 4 Bristol Airport taxis unfit for the road

One in four taxis checked in a blitz at Bristol Airport were found to be unfit to be on the road, the Mercury reports. Defects included worn tyres, defective seat belts, a fuel leak, cracked and obscured windscreens and defective braking systems. The defects were discovered during spot checks carried out on taxis to make sure they were in a safe condition and properly licensed. Investigations were also made to ensure that individuals were not fraudulently claiming benefits while working as taxis drivers.

The checks were carried out by officers from four local councils, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). In total 55 vehicles including taxis and mini buses, were inspected and 15 prohibition notices were issued by VOSA for vehicles with defects.

Vehicles with problems were stopped from being used for carrying passengers until the defects had been rectified. The checks also revealed two unlicensed vehicles in use as taxis and two unlicensed taxi drivers, against whom legal action is being considered. According to the newspaper, vehicles being operated by off airport car parks had a higher rate of defects. Of the nine vehicles inspected, six received prohibition notices.

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Were these 'hackney carriage' taxis or 'private hire'? I suspect that they were 'private hire' going by the state of the private hire taxis we get up here in Leeds.
 

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It's not made clear.

Bristol has a dedicated taxi company, Checker, based at the airport but, as the report shows, the airport is also served by other taxi companies. These companies, a mix of hackney and private hire, though probably predominantly the latter, have to drop off and pick up pre-booked passengers only in the airport rapid pick-up/drop-off park. Checkers are allowed nearer the terminal.

This link is a summary of longer reports published in local newspapers.

In none of these reports that I read is there a suggestion that any Checker vehicle was defective or driver unlawful which if this is the case is a bit unfair on Checker because many people will assume airport taxis includes them.

On the other hand, if Checkers were involved I believe we should be told and the airport should be taking it up with this taxi company forcefully. After all, they are the dedicated and contracted company to the airport and people should be able to assume they are one hundred per cent reliable. I suspect they are.
 

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[textarea]Access to UK rail network made easier for arriving passengers

A Fast Ticket machine has been installed at Bristol International, making access to the UK rail network easier for passengers arriving at the airport.

The new machine - installed in partnership with First Great Western - will enable passengers to purchase tickets for the airport’s Flyer express coach service to Bristol Temple Meads and connections to most rail stations in the country, eliminating the need for multiple tickets for those using public transport.

For example, overseas visitors travelling to the 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth can now purchase one ticket on arrival at Bristol International, simplifying arrangements for their onward journey.

The new machine, which will be situated in the arrivals concourse, accepts credit or debit cards, reducing the need for visitors from overseas to change money immediately on arrival. The machine will also speed up the boarding process as drivers will be handling less change.

Tickets will still be available online, on board and from the customer service hosts within the terminal.

The Flyer service carried over half a million passengers in the last 12 months and will play an important role in achieving Bristol International’s target of 15 per cent of all passengers travelling by public transport in future.

Flyer services to Weston-super-Mare and Bath form part of the public transport commitments included in the airport’s planning application to North Somerset Council, consultation on which is currently underway.

Tom Hack, Commercial Manager (Ground Transportation) at Bristol International Airport, said:

“Bristol International serves as a gateway to tourist attractions across the South West for many visitors, so making the onward journey as simple and convenient as possible will help to provide a good first impression of the region.”[/textarea]

The Flyer service is doing exceptionally well.

When the airport master plan was published nearly four years ago only 5% of passengers used the Flyer. The airport's target in the master plan was to increase this to 13% by the time airport terminal passenger numbers reached 9mppa.

A couple of weeks ago the local rag reported that so far in this calendar year nearly 12% of airport passengers have used the Flyer and it now appears the airport has increased its target figure from 13% to 15%.

Most of the people access the Flyer from the main central rail station at Temple Meads and many seem to use through rail/Flyer tickets making the Flyer a near de facto train. It appears on the rail station departure/arrival boards and the airport is listed as a First Great Western station.

The latest initiative will enable passengers to purchase through Flyer/rail tickets on arrival at the airport and will be particularly useful for inbound passengers.

The Flyer runs at 15-minute intervals in each direction for much of the day and operates from very early in the morning until the early hours of the following day.
 

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Sorry, not familiar with Bristol, is this a bus service that feeds the local train station that feeds the city of Bristol? It seems a great idea issuing tickets at the airport so people don't have to rush around at the station looking for the booking office or ticket machines there. The service that runs almost every fifteen minutes throughout the day must be very much sort after by other regional airports.
 

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The Bristol Airport Flyer was set up by the airport about ten years ago and is operated on their behalf by First Coaches.

The 50-seat coaches are painted in airport livery and operate from 0230 until 0120 the next day. From 0600 until 2000 they run every 15 minutes in each direction, every 30 minutes from 2000 til midnight then about once an hour through the night.

They are not a service bus per se, being intended for airport users including staff. If anyone wants to pop out to the airport to plane spot or meet someone they can use the service but it is expensive at £9 return - oldies like me can use our free bus passes on it though.

The coaches run to and from the airport to/from the main central rail station at Temple Meads - a 25-minute trip most of the time although rush hours can slow things down. The coaches then go to the country bus and coach station (ten minutes away) and every other one goes to the upmarket suburb of Clifton, serving a number of city centre and Clifton hotels en route.

The most-used section is between Temple Meads and the airport where many people travel on a combined rail/Flyer ticket effectively using the Flyer as part of their rail journey. As I said previously, the airport is a station on the First Great Western booking system and appears on the rail station arrival/departure boards.

It's been possible to book Flyer or combined tickets over the internet or in person as one would buy any rail ticket or simply pay the driver if just travelling on the Flyer. The new initiative gives inbound passengers a further option to purchase their onward travel requirements.

This is entirely an airport-funded service (I don't know if it now makes a profit) and the only regular bus serving the airport is a two-hourly village service that drops or collects only a handful of airport passengers each day.

The airport says it will put in additional Flyer services to Bath and Weston-super-Mare although it is not convinced either will be viable but it is a sop to the planners re the expansion application. It will also increase frequency on its core Bristol city centre-airport route in due course.

As airports like Bristol have peaks and troughs throughout the day so does the Flyer. At times they are near empty whilst at other times they leave people behind at the airport and at the rail station.

They are not ideally designed vehicles as all suitcase luggage has to be placed in a section beneath the vehicle that has then to be closed by the driver from the outside thus slowing things down. I should like to see purpose-designed vehicles with room for luggage inside the vehicle as they have on the Glasgow and Edinburgh airport-city centre services, perhaps even double-deckers as at Edinburgh, although I don't think it's possible to buy combined rail/bus tickets at GLA or EDI.
 

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[textarea]Bridge plunge causes chaos

AN incident on the Avonmouth Bridge last Friday which ended with a man falling 100 feet to his death brought traffic in North Somerset to a seven-hour standstill.

Avon and Somerset Police is standing by its decision to close the northbound M5 while attempts were made to rescue the man.

At about 7.30pm, a Bristol man in his fifties, who has not yet been named, plunged to his death after hours perched on a lamppost base on the outside edge of the bridge.

Drivers left stranded on the M5 have attacked the decision to close the entire northbound carriageway, which led to tailbacks of more than 30 miles at the start of one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Some said more effort should have been made to keep at least one lane of the motorway open.

People stuck on the M5 reported missing flights from Bristol International Airport, missing appointments and even a wedding.

Somerset MP David Heathcoat-Amory secured a parliamentary debate in June about the knock-on effect of an apparent increase in how readily the whole motorway is closed following accidents and incidents.

He was particularly concerned about the M5 in Bristol and Somerset during peak-holiday seasons.

Police though insisted the decision to shut all four lanes of the northbound carriageway was not taken lightly.

Force spokesman Simon Whitby said: "The welfare of this man, coupled with the safety of emergency services personnel at the scene and concerns for other road users who were becoming distracted by the incident, prompted police to close the M5 northbound.

"Decisions to enforce significant road closures are not taken lightly by the force, and are only taken in cases where there is considerable risk to life or safety."

Police had been alerted just before 1pm to a "vulnerable man" on the crest of the bridge.

At 2pm, they shut the northbound carriageway between junctions 19 and 18, from Gordano to Avonmouth.

The closure was later extended to junction 21 at Weston, with drivers turned around and diverted on to nearby A-roads.

Southbound, the exit slip road at junction 19 was closed, adding to the hold-ups.

Traffic queued as far back as Bridgwater on the northbound M5.

Families were stuck for hours with no food or drink, although the Highways Agency tried to provide some of them with water.

Three of the four northbound lanes were reopened just after 8pm.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Assistant chief constable John Long said: "While many motorists were understandably frustrated and angry about the disruption and delays to their journey, the safety of everyone concerned was the paramount priority."

An inquest into the man's death will be opened by the coroner's court this week.

Source[/textarea]

Just what you need on the way to the airport, sounds like a nightmare.
 

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The area of the M5 round the Avonmouth Bridge is a nightmare. The bridge seems to be in permanent maintenance mode - more work started for several months today leading to huge jams again - and though it has four lanes in each direction if it is closed for accidents or incidents there is no effective way of travelling north or south without going into the already congested city of Bristol.

Normally a northbound problem like this would not affect people coming up from Somerset, Devon or Cornwall to the airport because they would exit well to the south of Weston-super-Mare and travel on the A 38 direct to the airport.

If, as reported, some people were affected the queue was either horrendously long (they said 30 miles in the report) or the people concerned were taking a circuitous route to BRS in the first place.
 

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The M 5 has been closed since around 0430 today between Avonmouth and Burnham-on-Sea junctions (around a thirty mile stretch) because a power pylon has been brought down across the carriageway following a motor vehicle coming into collision with it - at least the vehicle occupants are not seriously injured according to media reports.

The Highway Agency said the reason for such a lengthy stretch of road closure is that the North Somerset road infrastructure is not capable of dealing with such volumes of traffic if intermediate junctions were kept open.

The main alternative is the near parallel A38 and this is reportedly very heavy with traffic as are parts of Bristol between Avonmouth and the south-west suburbs.

There is a notice on the BRS website warning passengers of the disruption and advising that the Flyer Coach service (along A38 from airport to city) is suffering delays.

Yet again closure of the M5 around the Avonmouth pinchpoint brings traffic chaos to much of the Bristol region.

Addendum

Began to re-open M5 at 1130 but traffic congestion still severe.
 

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Ah yes, I caught this on Sally Traffic this morning on Radio 2. I suspected it would cause major problems for people trying to get to Bristol airport. A lucky escape by all the occupants of the car then by all accounts. It's bad enough luck crashing your car let alone crashing it into an electric pylon.
 

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[textarea]Airport flyer set for £2 million makeover


First provides new buses for Bristol International fleet

From Sunday 4th April, important changes to the Flyer Service will be introduced.

The frequency of the bus service will increase from running every 15 minutes at peak to every 10 minutes from key locations including Bristol Airport, Temple Meads and the Bus Station.  The route will change to suit the more efficient service with key hotels such as the new Radisson Blu hotel, the Bristol Hotel (formally Jury's Bristol) and the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel all being served.  The new route will cover The Grove, Prince Street and College Green.  The service will continue to stop at Clifton Triangle but will no longer stop at Whiteladies Road or Blackboy Hill, however these Clifton destinations can be reached from the Clifton Triangle or College Green stops by connecting with the local First Buss service numbers 1, 54, 54a, 40, 40a and the 8 and 9 services.

Twelve new buses, each costing £180,000, are on order as part of improvements to the Bristol International Airport Flyer. The new fleet will replace the nine coaches currently operating the service which links the airport to Bristol Temple Meads, Marlborough Street Bus Station and other city centre locations.

The new Volvo vehicles, supplied by Wright Bus of Belfast (which also provides buses to Transport for London), will be wheelchair accessible and passengers will be able to take their luggage on board with them, providing peace of mind and speeding up the boarding process.

Each bus will feature leather seats and wood effect flooring, as well as free Wi-Fi access and power points to charge phones and laptops. The new vehicles will also deliver improvements in fuel efficiency and emissions reductions as they are compliant with Euro 5 standards and run on AdBlue, which reduces emissions of oxides of nitrogen.

The first six replacement buses will be delivered in the spring, with the remaining six arriving in 2011.

The planning application for the development of Bristol International to enable the airport to handle 10 million passengers per annum (mppa) in 2019/20 contains a raft of proposed public transport improvements, including the introduction of Flyer services to Bath and Weston-super-Mare. The airport has also set a 15 per cent target for public transport usage by passengers at 10 mppa.

The name of the Flyer services will change from the 330 and 331 to A1 and A2 in order to differentiate between the National Express 330 service which also calls at the airport.[/textarea]

http://www.bristolairport.co.uk/news-an ... eover.aspx

They are not ideally designed vehicles as all suitcase luggage has to be placed in a section beneath the vehicle that has then to be closed by the driver from the outside thus slowing things down. I should like to see purpose-designed vehicles with room for luggage inside the vehicle as they have on the Glasgow and Edinburgh airport-city centre services, perhaps even double-deckers as at Edinburgh, although I don't think it's possible to buy combined rail/bus tickets at GLA or EDI.
My quoted remarks in this thread last summer must have been listened to. :beer:
 

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[textarea]Spot checks on Bristol Airport taxis and car park busses

Spot checks on taxis and off airport car park transfer busses taking people to Bristol Airport revealed that one in four vehicles were not fit to be on the road, a joint crackdown at the airport revealed.

Checks were made by police, council and government agencies to ensure vehicles being used by a variety of taxi and off-site car park operators or transporting passengers to and from the airport, were correctly licensed and in a safe condition. Investigations were also made to ensure that individuals were not fraudulently claiming benefits while working as taxis drivers.

Source[/textarea]
 

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Enhanced Flyer timetable

With the new buses coming into operation the Flyer timetable will be at ten minute intervals for much of the day from 4 April 2010 - it's currently at 15-minute intervals.

The ten minute frequency will operate from 0600 until 1900 from the bus/coach station via Temple Meads main rail station to the airport with a 20-minute frequency from 0440-0600 and 1900-midnight. There will also be services leaving at 0230 and 0335 (much as they do now).

In the opposite direction the ten minute frequency operates from the airport between 0640 and 1910, with 20-minute frequencies between 0520 and 0640, and 1910 and 2350. There will also be services leaving at 0050, 0305 and 0420 (much as they do now).

The routes around the central area have been altered to take in more hotels.
 

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[textarea]Airport taxi firm to deliver new vehicles and services

Bristol Airport has agreed a five year deal with taxi provider Checker Cars which will provide an improved service to passengers.

Checker Cars is the leading airport taxi operator in the UK, with 1,000 drivers across airports including Gatwick and Stansted. The new contract with Bristol Airport secures the delivery of a new fleet of vehicles and a range of new services, as well as introducing a new code of conduct for drivers.

An improved fleet of vehicles will be introduced over the next 12 months, incorporating the latest low emissions technology and a ‘start-stop’ system to reduce fuel consumption. The vehicles will be sourced from and serviced by a local supplier, Winford Ford, located just three miles from Bristol Airport.

The new fleet will include executive vehicles for passengers preferring a premium service. Minibuses will also be available for passengers with shared destinations, delivering economies to customers, lowering emissions and helping to reduce traffic to and from the Airport.

Other innovations include the introduction of an e-ticket machine in the arrivals concourse to eradicate queuing in the taxi office during busy periods.

Under the terms of the new agreement, all drivers will sign up to a code of conduct covering customer service, driving standards and consideration for local communities around Bristol Airport. This will involve avoiding Barrow Gurney if taking an alternative route will not significantly impact on a passenger’s journey time, and ensuring the 20mph speed limit through the village is adhered to when this route is used.

Ian Hiles, General Manager (Ground Transportation) at Bristol Airport, said:
“This new agreement will deliver improvements to passengers and to local communities around the airport. It increases customer choice and will improve the process by which arriving passengers can book a taxi for their onward journey from Bristol Airport.

“Alongside the recently agreed improvements to the Flyer bus service, this enhanced taxi service forms part of a greatly improved transport offer to passengers.”[/textarea]

http://www.bristolairport.co.uk/news-an ... -cars.aspx

To clarify, Checker Cars is the current operator and the new contract will, in theory at least, enhance the service.
 

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