First Bus announced as operator of new Parkway to Cribbs ‘M4’ MetroBus service

Photo of two men standing in front of a bus.
West of England metro mayor Dan Norris (right) announces the new M4 bus route from Parkway to Cribbs Causeway. Pictured with Doug Claringbold from First West of England.

First West of England has been announced as the operator of a planned new MetroBus service on the soon-to-be-completed Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) route.

The new ‘M4’ service is intended to provide a fast and reliable bus link between Bristol Parkway Station and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, via the Brabazon mixed-use development that is being built on the former Filton Airfield.

It is anticipated that services on the M4 MetroBus service will commence in “spring 2023”.

West of England metro mayor Dan Norris made the announcement alongside South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet member for transport, Cllr Steve Reade, and First’s managing director Doug Claringbold at Bristol Parkway Station earlier today (Wednesday 25th May 2022).

Map showing a bus route.
Map showing the route of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME).

View a hi-res version of the above route map (on Dropbox).

Buses are expected to follow a slightly amended route, most likely along Hayes Way, until the new road is built through YTL Development’s Brabazon site on the old airfield.

The main construction work for the CPME scheme is due to complete in September this year. Other work, such as the installation of bus shelters and iPoints (combined ticket machines and information displays), along with landscaping, will be completed in the autumn.

The £57 million project, which has been project-led by South Gloucestershire Council, has included the replacement of the railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane, the widening of Gipsy Patch Lane to create space for new bus lanes, and improvements at the San Andreas roundabout near The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.

A controversial plan to construct a new southbound bus lane on Hatchet Road in Stoke Gifford as part of the CPME scheme was scrapped in December 2017 after South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative-led administration announced a “change of policy”.

Photo of cars passing under a railway bridge.
The first vehicles pass under the new railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane. Little Stoke, after the road was reopened to two-way traffic following a closure lasting more than two years.

The M4 will supplement the three existing MetroBus routes created as part of the North Fringe to Hengrove Package – M1 (Cribbs Causeway to Hengrove Park via Bradley Stoke, UWE and Bristol city centre); M2 (Long Ashton Park & Ride to Bristol city centre) and M3 (Emersons Green to Bristol city via UWE).

Map showing bus routes.
Existing MetroBus network map, showing routes M1, M2, M3 & M3X. View a hi-res version [PDF] on Dropbox.
With none of the current MetroBus routes serving Bristol Parkway, it is unclear how the new M4 service can be portrayed as being an ‘extension’ to the existing network. This aspect may become clearer as further details of the proposed service are released in the coming months.

A route between Emersons Green and Parkway Station that was included in the original North Fringe to Hengrove Package plans (see network map on Dropbox) was quietly shelved in 2017, before the first MetroBus services began operating.

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Welcoming the announcement, metro mayor Dan Norris said:

“I’m so pleased that we’ve got First on board to operate this important new service fully funded from the West of England Combined Authority I lead, which will make a real difference to communities in Stoke Gifford to Patchway and beyond. The M4 will get even more people out of cars and onto our snazzy new greener, cleaner and reliable buses – so important if we’re going reach our net-zero ambitions and ensure more local people breathe cleaner air and lead healthier lives.”

As part of the move, a number of bus stops along the route are being upgraded to ‘MetroBus standard’ including having brand-new bus shelters, iPoints, cycle hoops, fully accessible kerbs and CCTV to keep service users safe while travelling.

The West of England Combined Authority will be working closely with First over the coming months to finalise details of the M4 service, with more information to be announced later in the year.

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Doug Claringbold, managing director of First West of England, said:

“We are delighted to be operating this new metrobus route and very much welcome the ongoing investment in bus infrastructure which is critical to the region’s transition to a sustainable, low carbon future.”

“Since the M3 and M2 were launched in 2018, followed by the M1 in January 2019, they have carried over 11 million passengers, despite the pandemic. These services enable faster, more direct journeys which offer customers a very viable alternative to taking the car.”

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South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet member for transport councillor, Steve Reade, said:

“The Cribbs Patchway metrobus extension is a flagship project for South Gloucestershire Council and is part of our commitment to improve public transport, walking and cycling facilities and the road network in the area.”

“We have worked closely with the Combined Authority since its inception, who have backed the scheme and agreed the £57 million funding enabling the creation of this vital new route, which is nearing completion.”

“I am very pleased to see this project reach such an important milestone and welcome First Bus onboard. This new metrobus service will make public transport a credible and attractive option for our residents living in Stoke Gifford and Patchway and for those moving to and working in the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood.”

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