#FirstBus responds to your tweets

This morning* I told Twitter that I was meeting with Justin Davies, the regional director of First Bus, at 10am, and asked people what they would like me to say to him. I managed to raise most of the points in the meeting, and will blog about other things we discussed a bit later, as I’ve got to go into the Chamber/ meetings now, but First Group have already – very efficiently, it has to be said – emailed me with a response to some of the tweets.

* NB This post was written yesterday, I just didn’t get round to formatting and pressing publish till today!

@JamesCushion sorry, late reply. First Bus: desperately expensive. Reasonable service on my routes but too much £ per mile over short distance.Good to hear that James finds the service reasonable. Fares are clearly an issue for some people in Bristol but they do reflect the operating costs for us in this area, and some fares have been held / reduced in recent times. I will flag up the issue of £ per mile to the commercial team.

@PaulTurner36 How about, be nicer to cyclists?We like cyclists. And I’m hoping to meet with Sustrans in the coming months to see how we can work even closer together with cycling groups, particularly around passenger safety month, to improve their [cyclists] awareness of what our drivers can see / do, and so we can better understand what the cyclists concerns are re our drivers.

@nxylas That at least one bus passenger appreciates the improvement to the network, despite the Evening Post’s relentless negativity. This is good to hear.

@fowlerxxx As long as they have the monopoly there is nothing that can be done. Drain on city resources. Shocking service & prices.First doesn’t have a monopoly in Bristol, we have a number of competitors. We would disagree with the statement this tweeter has made in relation to use of city resources as the vast majority of our services are operated on a commercial basis.

@briantitley pls tell Mr 1st Bus to get drivers to share camaraderie with cyclists. Cars are the enemy, not bikes. We agree (although don’t necessarily see cars as the enemy, but instead a big competitor for us), point re cyclists is as above.

@closetoghost_ to get buses that are actually on time! been late to work so many times because they either never turn up or just drive past / usually over crowded. there need to be shorter time intervals between each bus, and also later bus times at night! We will take this feedback on board but would urge customers who have persistent issues to contact our customer service team so it can be logged and then used to show a picture of what is not working as well as it could be. We can then change / fix things.

@oliverhumpage at least 1/3 of drivers I’ve encountered have been actively unhelpful to me or other passengers. And it’s all just too expensive.
We expect our drivers to be the public face of our company and they are all getting extra training. Most of them are lovely but we recognise that one or two can let the side down. We’re working to improve that. Fares, as noted above, reflect operating costs, but season tickets can offer really good value for money and value for money scores in customer research have improved significantly in Bristol in recent times.

@miseywisey That it’s stupid I can park my car in the centre for the morning for less than a bus fare. I live in Broomhill and would prefer bus
It would be interesting to know where this person parks and how that actually compares to the cost of her bus fare. From my point of view, when travelling into Bristol, I would always use the bus (£4 day ticket) as this is easier and cheaper than driving in / out, finding somewhere to park and then paying for the parking.

@GordonHowells Co-operation with other travel operators maybe? Wessex, local trains? How about a day ticket to cover all operators? Thanks. There is a day ticket to cover all operators including trains already (Freedom Pass)

@BristolTUSH Why cant we have the London system of buying a ticket before getting on?
We are trying to encourage people to buy tickets off bus – we have arrangements with PayPoint so people can buy tickets along with bread / milk in local shops, we also incentivise people to use season ticket products. We are trying to reduce the time it takes for people to board by allowing people to pay for fares on credit / debit card – this technology should be live in the next 12 months.

@RichSwitch Might be a good idea to tell him you’re also there to listen, and to pass on the concerns he has on Transport policy to @meaglemp?

@CareDocsUKI’ve used buses to get to work but arrived late far too often. How many of his managers use a bus to get to work?
Everyone at First, including the directors, are encouraged to use buses as often as possible. While a number of managers do use the bus to get to work not everyone lives close enough to do so. Regardless all managers have to travel by bus (and feedback on experiences) every week. A number of managers also drive buses part time too, and the directors recently took part in a Back to the Floor exercise where, for instance, one spent the day driving, Justin spent the evening (night shift) as a bus cleaner and others worked in traffic control.

@VictorRiordan Just watched 2 full no. 6&7 buses go straight passed waiting people on Whitehall Rd. Why are they single deckers on a busy route?
We’ll look into this but would urge customers to log concerns and complaints with customer services so it can help us build a picture of persistent issues. All complaints are regularly reviewed by the depot teams.

@RooRooRuby between 7:30 – 8am on the 6/7 route usually passed by at least two full buses./ Reliable service. Lower fares. Larger or more buses in the mornings.
We’ll look into this but as above we would urge customers to log concerns and complaints with customer services so it can help us build a picture of persistent issues. All complaints are regularly reviewed by the depot teams.

@gurningchimp buses overpriced, often dirty. Fair enough there are traffic delays etc but staff need to communicate to passengers (& smile more) / nothing worse than a disappearing driver act at Lawrence hill, only take a few seconds to say “next driver will be along shortly”. / But mainly cost. Its cheaper to drive my family into town and park than to get the bus, that’s plain wrong.
We’ll take this on board. Justin recently spent some time as a bus cleaner himself and I know this gave him some fresh insight re bus cleanliness. We agree re the issue of drivers disappearing, and they should not do this. We understand the concerns re fares but it’s hard to comment re the cost of driving family in versus bus fare as I don’t know where he is / how many people his family consists of. NB Family Day ticket in Bristol has been frozen at £8 from April, and Family Day South West is often on a promotion, offering unlimited travel in South West for £10 (for 5 people, max two adults). If customers want more information about service delays they can follow our Twitter feed, it’s broadcast only but gives an insight into what might be affecting local bus services (@FirstBSA)

@Knight_cider to turn first bus into a community co op?
Sorry, we’re a commercial business. Knight_cider could set up his own community co op though if he wanted to. All he needs to start a bus company is a license to do so.

@phil_kingston Re FB. Why have they introduced new ticket machines doing the same job rather than Oyster cards that would make a difference?
We’ve gone one step beyond oyster cards introducing contactless ticketing solutions. They’re not up and running yet but they soon will be (next 12 months). I understand Oyster will be introducing this too in time. The installation of our new ticket machines was phase one in this process.

@andybee Why have First implemented the contactless payment system in such an intentionally crippled way it will only fail?
We disagree with this. The contactless ticketing solution is not up and running yet so as yet only concessionary pass holders use the new ticketing machines in the way they are designed.

@ontheroad361 it’s funny I should see a RT of this just after I tweet about First. Can you ask him why on popular routes (X39 in the morning toBath) they don’t increase the amount of services? Too many times drivers don’t/can’t stop because they’re already full!
We’ll pass this onto the network team

@andyw1 that first bus is an expensive shambles. Also when will we get an oyster card system & co-ordination with rest of public transport?
As noted above, the contactless ticketing solution is coming in the next 12 months.

@wood5y why is First’s airport bus to Lulsgate 6 times dearer than the equivalent service I use in Crete?
We can’t comment on the cost of buses in Crete, but £6 single or £10 return for adults to the airport is significantly cheaper than a taxi for one person and a lot cheaper than the cost of parking at the airport.

@garypepworth Also could they offer a discount for unemployed people? 1 return trip to Bristol cost nearly 10% of a week’s JSA. Thanks Kerry. / Why on the rural routes ie the 309 Thornbury service we have to put up with 16 yr old buses that often break down?
I’ll pass this onto the commercial team and the service delivery team

@gusbbaker buses are too expensive and not having oysters means waiting years at every stop to count change.
As above, we’re encouraging people to buy season tickets off bus to speed up boarding times, and our new contactless ticketing solution once introduced will potentially eliminate the need for people to use change

@BristolRed Time tables online & at the bus stop matching would also be nice. / Better discounts for pre payments options (on 10 journey, weekly or annual season tickets) currently only a couple of p per journey
We’ll take the point about bus stop info needing to match the info online however we share the responsibility for roadside publicity with the city council ie we do some bus stops and they do others. If customers have spotted errors please tell us via customer services and we’ll make sure it’s sorted. The discounts for season ticket holders are substantial over the cost of walk on fares but again we’ll take the point on and I’ll flag it to the commercial team.

@iamfleece Maybe tell him that it costs same for 3 people to get a cab into town as a bus these days. Why would you take the bus?
We understand this and agree that, depending on the journey being made, it can be cheaper for multiple people to take a taxi and share that cost rather than use the bus. The bus is still a viable alternative though and is ideal if there are not three of you to share a taxi fare.

@stephenfulham that three consecutive buses failed to turn up on Friday. And that’s a regular failing. Oh, and student rates needed!
We would urge Steven to make a complaint if he’s had regular problems with buses not turning up – we can check if they ran by looking at our GPS systems. We do offer student fares.

@MrGreenGus Oyster card that works with other buses and trains, real-time alerts that are…real time, electric vehicles & transport hub at TM.
We do have real time information (www.nextbusbristol.co.uk), we have trialled a diesel electric vehicle in Bath, a transport hub at TM is an issue for the Council to address.

@lillynova why is it cheaper for me to take my car and park in Central Bristol than take the bus?
As noted above I’d like to know where they are parking. I think the £4 day ticket offers value for money over the costs associated with driving and parking in Bristol. The reduced price FirstNight ticket – being introduced from April – will be a solution for people going into town at night.

@lorimorgan I’ve never known a transport company so universally disliked. / His bus service suffers from a serious inability to follow it’s timetable. Some buses just don’t turn up and their is no easy… When you pay £3 for less than a 2 mile journey the least they can do is turn up accessible way to complain../ You can only complain by post. Given technology now their preferred method of contact is a deliberate attempt to make it difficult
Punctuality and Reliability has improved, we’re introducing a new customer promise to refund customers for late / early journeys where we are to blame. You can complain to us in a number of ways – online, by phone, by post. We are also about to launch a Facebook page and while it will not be an official customer service channel it will give people the opportunity to talk to us in another way.

@lauramalarkey tell him that his buses are too expensive to use. Better by foot. And ask him when that Oyster card system is comin into play. Ta.
Our Contactless system should be working by the end of the year, def within 12 months.

@Dorset_Paul Reduce the Bus Fares (I Know that will Never Happen). Provide a Reliable Service
We reduced some fares last year, and the year before (day ticket went from £4.30 to £4 in 2010 and a number of weekly and monthly tickets were cut last year). Our aim is to provide a punctual and reliable service for all our customers. Satisfaction scores have improved although we recognise there is still more we can do.

@OldMarket provide toilettes and cash machine for users in Old Market = care for customer service across the city
This is an issue for the Council to address.

@guriben that his company is a shower of shit, his buses are unreliable, dirty, and driven by impolite arseholes (usually)
This is unfair. Punctuality and Reliability has improved and the vast majority of our drivers are lovely, although we recognise they are occasionally let down by a couple. We are addressing this.

@iamfleece that his drivers need to understand that we don’t know what stops are called so if I say centre just tale me there don’t correct me We will take this point on board.

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  • Darren Lewis  On March 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Kudos to Kerry for taking Bristolians’ concerns to First Bus.

  • Mair Allen  On March 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    This is @miseywisey. I’m parking in the Galleries/Gardiner Haskins. It costs about £2 for 2 hours. Return bus is £4. Sometimes I walk in and get the bus back which is £2.70, still more than parking. Obviously I understand it’s different if you’re parking for the whole day, but it does seem daft. Special discount for mums and toddlers after 9 on weekday, please! we’d much rather take the bus – much more fun!

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