Monday, 30 September 2013

X2/X3: Bristol - Portishead

UPDATE 13.11.2014: The routes described below have recently been so unreliable as to be virtually useless. I'll leave this page up for archive purposes, but until First start caring about providing a reliable service to Portishead, I can no longer recommend using these particular bus services.


The routes between Bristol and Portishead were revamped early this year to provide a more co-ordinated service along that corridor. See the animation here to understand which way each route goes. Brand new buses are being used with comfortable, leather seats and free wifi. There is some stunning scenery on the route, so why not give it a go? These routes are operated by First, but don't let that put you off. Click here to discover other bus routes across the South West.


On 4th November 2013, the timetable on these routes changed. The evening/Sunday 23 disappeared and the X2 & X3 now also run evenings and Sundays to a higher frequency. Check the timetable on First's website before you travel.

See a suggestion of ways these routes could be improved with faster journey times between Portishead and Bristol over on Portishead Bus Update.

Bristol


The proud, historic city of Bristol must surely be England's most beautiful big city. There's a sense of space and grandness that you just don't get in the post-industrial cities of the Midlands and North. Plus there's a laid-back air that you will struggle to find in London. While in Bristol, why not visit the SS Great Britain? Or the At-Bristol science museum?


The buses to Portishead all start from stand 11 at Bristol Bus Station:


The most convenient stop for most though, will be stop CI at The Centre:


Leigh Woods

This small village is an overspill of Clifton, made possible by the awe-inspiring Victorian Clifton Suspension Bridge, just a short walk away from the bus stops on Rownham Hill.

Coming from Bristol, get off here for the Bridge and follow the blue line walking back towards Bristol then left at the lights.

This is the stop to head back into Bristol. The Bridge is right at the lights.

This thing has to be seen in the flesh to be believed.


Also nearby is the Leigh Woods Nature Reserve. Next we pass through Abbots Leigh and then the routes divide. The X2 and the 23 run via Pill and Easton-in Gordano, while the X3 whizzes along the A369.

Portishead

We finally arrive in Portishead, with the X3 running via the regenerated docks area, now known as Port Marine. The X2 goes direct to the High Street. The 23 serves Port Marine, but only towards Bristol.

I should mention that Portishead the band are still going strong.


Portishead is a lovely, relaxing, coastal town with a thriving High Street and beautiful marina. One highlight not to be missed is a drink in the Windmill Inn on Nore Road, with views across the Severn Estuary to Wales. All of our buses from Bristol stop on Nore Road, right outside the Windmill.


They also stop on Combe Road, stop B by HSBC on the corner with High Street, the last stop before the routes split:


Times

See the full timetable for the X2 and X3 on First's website here. There's a bus every 15 minutes Mon-Sat daytimes and every 30 mins evenings and Sundays between Bristol and Portishead, with half of the buses running via Port Marine and half via Pill.

Traveline's timetables include a full stop-by-stop route listing. Click for the X2/X3.

Use these links for live departure times towards Portishead:

...and towards Bristol:

Fares

The cheapest day ticket valid for the entire route is a FirstDay Bristol Outer at £6.00.

If you'll also be travelling outside the Bristol zones, then a FirstDay South West at £7.00 will take you further.


If you need to use another company's buses as well as First and you'll be travelling within the former county of Avon, then the AvonRider at £7.20 is the ticket you need.


If travelling within Avon but you also want to use the train, then you need a Freedom TravelPass, which costs £10.60 off-peak (after 0900 weekdays, anytime weekends) for the Bristol and Bath zones.


If travelling by train from outside Bristol, then you can buy a Bristol Plusbus with your train ticket, which is valid on routes X2/X3/23 from Bristol Bus Station as far as Blackmoor Road in Abbots Leigh, but not any further towards Portishead. It can also be used on any other bus within this zone.


Connections

Map of routes X2/X3 and major connections. Not to scale. Red routes are operated by First. Green routes are run by other operators.

Bristol has a comprehensive bus network. For an overview, see Travel West's Greater Bristol bus map. If only travelling with First, use their Bristol route maps to work out where to go.

The X2/X3 don't serve Temple Meads railway station. If you need to go there, use First routes 8, 9 (stop CG) or 70 (stop CQ) to connect from The Centre. Alternatively, it's a short walk.

For trains to and from Temple Meads, click for live departures, departure list and fares.

From Portishead, your main connections are with the following route:
  • First X5 to Weston-super-Mare or to Cribbs Causeway

See the North Somerset council bus map, which covers Portishead, here. First's local route map for Portishead is here and their North Somerset map is here.

See a suggestion of ways these routes could be improved with faster journey times between Portishead and Bristol over on Portishead Bus Update.

All of the information in this post is correct at the time of writing, but please check the relevant links before travelling.

UPDATE 13.11.2014: The routes described above have recently been so unreliable as to be virtually useless. I'll leave this page up for archive purposes, but until First start caring about providing a reliable service to Portishead, I can no longer recommend using these particular bus services.

Monday, 9 September 2013

30: Cardiff - Newport


The 30 connects Wales's gleaming (in parts) capital with the not-so-gleaming Newport. The route is operated jointly by two municipals, Cardiff Bus and Newport Bus. The above map is of the Cardiff bit of the route. Newport lets the side down by not producing a map for their section. I do wonder why. Click here to discover other bus routes in Wales.



Cardiff


Cardiff has only been a capital city since 1955. It's come a long way since then though and surely deserves more tourists than it actually gets. Those who do make it here will will find plenty to see, including the National Museum. See Cardiff's official tourism site for more details.

By law, any article that mentions Cardiff must be accompanied by a picture of this building. Happy to oblige.

The 30 leaves from stand F1 at Cardiff Central Station. Like Barnsley, Cardiff is sensible enough to have its main bus station right next to the railway station.


On the way out of Cardiff, keep an eye out for a few mini-essays disguised as road signs. I challenge anyone to absorb all of this information in the few seconds you get while travelling past!


Newport

Newport, it has to be said, has seen better days. Relatives of mine who live just up the road are always telling me to avoid Newport. But then they always were a bit stuck up! It's a place with a rich history, particularly in the 19th Century democracy movement, known as chartism. The desires of ordinary folk who wished to be treated with respect were met with deadly violence in the Newport Rising of 1839. While here in Newport, why not visit the famous transporter bridge over the River Usk or take a stroll in Belle Vue Park?

We don't have a map of the route the 30 takes in Newport, because Newport Bus, owned by the local council, can't be bothered to produce one. The 30 back to Cardiff leaves from stand 13 at the bus station:


Times

See the full timetable on Cardiff Bus's website here.

Here are the live scheduled departure times from:
Cardiff Central Station, stop F1
Newport Bus Station, stand 13

Fares

Here's where it gets complicated. As the 30 is shared between Cardiff Bus and Newport Bus, the fare you pay depends on who operates the particular bus you board. The timetable makes it clear who runs which journeys.


If travelling with Cardiff Bus, then a single ticket end-to-end is £2.10. A Day To Go ticket is £3.40, valid on all Cardiff Buses (unless you're going to Barry) for a day.


If travelling with Newport Bus, then a single ticket will set you back £2.00. A City Day Plus is £3.50, but will get you as far east as Chepstow.


Both companies accept Plusbus tickets for the Cardiff and Newport zones. You can buy a Plusbus with your train ticket to or from Cardiff or Newport.

There is a ticket that is valid throughout on both companies' buses: The Network Dayrider. Newport Bus apparently accept it, but don't mention it on their website. Cardiff Bus charge these prices for it:


... and if you buy it on a Stagecoach bus, you'll pay a bit more. Still great value for a ticket that's valid over a very wide area:


Connections

Map of the 30 and major connecting routes. Not to scale. Red routes are operated by either Cardiff Bus or Newport Bus. Green routes are run by other operators.

From Cardiff Bus Station, you have local services in all directions operated by Cardiff Bus. See their network map here. You also have some regional routes:


Right next to the bus station in Cardiff is Cardiff Central railway station. Click for live departures, departure list, fares.

From Newport bus station, you can catch buses locally with Newport Bus. Plus there are some longer distance services:


Newport railway station is a short walk away from the bus station. Click for live departures, departure list, fares.

Alternatives

Newport Bus also run a faster version of the 30, the X30. It's a bit quicker and you can use your Newport Bus City Day Plus ticket on it, as well as the Network Dayrider.


You can also catch a train between Cardiff and Newport. There are at least 6 trains an hour Mon-Sat daytimes. An adult single is £4.60 and an off-peak day return is £5.00 (travel after 0845 weekdays, anytime weekends). More details at the National Rail website.

All of the information in this post is correct at the time of writing, but please check the relevant links before travelling.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

96: Barnsley - Wakefield

Stop press: Tates Travel are no longer trading and the 96 is no longer running. This post has been left on in case another company starts running that route. Always check with the operator and local authority before you travel.


The 96 links a town and a city in Yorkshire via a few commuter villages and a real gem of a tourist attraction. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised! Click here to discover other bus routes in Yorkshire.

Barnsley


Once a mining town, Barnsley has now been regenerated with plenty of flowers in the town centre and possibly Britain's most modern-looking bus station. It's so easy to use Barnsley as a hub because the bus and railway stations are right next to each other. There was me thinking that such sensible ideas had been banned in the UK!


Things to do in Barnsley include the Museum & Discovery Centre and Calypso Cove Water Park.

The 96 leaves from stand 4 at the gleaming Barnsley Interchange:


Yorkshire Sculpture Park


The highlight of this route by far. There's nowhere like Yorkshire Sculpture Park anywhere else in Britain. Huge sculptures, lots of them, set in an enormous country park. You really need to spend the whole day here to do it justice. Great value too: car drivers get charged £7.50 to park, but bus passengers don't have to pay a penny! The bus runs right into the park, dropping you off in the car park by the visitor centre, which includes a gift shop and toilets. Elsewhere in the park there are a restaurant and cafe although you can of course bring your own lunch and have a picnic.


Wakefield


Wakefield became a city in 1888. There's plenty to do including a visit to Wakefield Cathedral or Sandal Castle.

The 96 goes from stop 18 at Wakefield Bus Station:


Times

The full current timetable for the 96 is available from the following websites:



Here are your links to the live scheduled departure boards for the major stops on route 96:



Fares


The only day ticket valid from end to end is the operator's own Tates Travel Day Saver at £4.40. For single and return fares, call Tates on 01226 205 800.


If you are travelling only within West Yorkshire, so Wakefield to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, then you can use Metro's range of tickets. The MetroDay at £5.40 can be used on all buses of all operators throughout West Yorkshire. If arriving by train, a Wakefield Plusbus ticket has the same validity as the MetroDay.


If you are only travelling within South Yorkshire, that's Barnsley to Haigh Roundabout (M1 junction 38), then you can use Travel South Yorkshire's tickets, which include the SYConnectDay at £6.00, valid on all buses in South Yorkshire. While valid on the 96, these tickets cannot be bought on board the bus, but are available from the Travel South Yorkshire Information Centre at Barnsley Interchange. If arriving in to Barnsley by train, the Barnsley Plusbus has the same validity as the SYConnectDay.


Connections

Map of the 96 and major connecting routes. Not to scale. Red routes are operated by Tates Travel and can be used with their Day Saver. Green routes are run by other companies.

Travel South Yorkshire have a map of all bus services in BarnsleyStagecoach run most of the buses in Barnsley (but not the 96). See a map of their Barnsley routes here.

Barnsley's bus and railway stations are all under one roof at Barnsley Interchange making switching from train to bus and back again easy. Click for live train departures, departure list and fares.

If you're connecting in Wakefield, then Metro's Wakefield bus map will help you on your way. See the detailed city centre map here and bus station details here. Arriva run most of the buses in Wakefield. See their local network map here.

Wakefield has two railway stations, both a few minutes walk from the bus station:



Alternatives

If you're travelling between Barnsley and Wakefield and don't mind which way you go, you have a few alternatives to the 96:



Stop press: Tates Travel are no longer trading and the 96 is no longer running. This post has been left on in case another company starts running that route. Always check with the operator and local authority before you travel.

All of the information in this post is correct at the time of writing, but please check the relevant links before travelling.