Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Bristol Bus Station

On Sunday I was in Bristol so went for a look around the new(ish) bus station. (I do like my cultural sights, don't I?)

On passing the National Express counter, I heard the lady on duty there saying in a distinctly fed up voice "Why do people keep coming here for local bus information?"

"Yes," I thought to myself "I bet they get a lot of that. People don't read signs, do they?"

However, a few metres further on I found the FirstBus Information shop.......which was closed being Sunday! No wonder people head for National Express!

I know that not everything can open 24/7/365 and that these things have a high (labour) cost. However, at such a major (and busy) bus station, there really ought to have been somewhere to get local bus information, even on a Sunday.

This is one of the things that makes public transport the resort of the desperate and always makes me a bit sad as I think it should be a good solution attractive to everyone. That said, I was very impressed not so much with the design of the bus station but its cleanliness and the fact that it felt "pleasant", with none of the sometimes slightly threatening, down-at-heel fee you get in a lot of them (have a look at Redditch Bus Station sometime!).

Yes, there are LED displays but these are only of limited use for people who aren't familiar with local geography, being a bit short on detail.

Still, maybe I'm just old-fashioned. Enquiry offices, like timetable books, are just so twentieth century, aren't they?


  1. Maybe FirstBus should ensure (if they don't already) that a map+timetable information is prominently displayed nearby? And/or provide the NX booth with some brochures they can let people help themselves to?

  2. As far as I could tell, there wa no network route information at all.

    The National Express booth had a few (very few) route timetbles for City services in a rack but these would only have been of use (a) if you wanted a City not country service and (b)you knew what you wanted in the first place.

    What *does* happen, though, is that different transport providers have a "nothing to do with us" attitude, hence the remarks of the NX lady as I passed by.

    They may well have a point but that only serves to underline why there is a need for public, impartial information. Not everywhere is going to open on a Sunday, either but this was not some out of the way location at a quiet time. It was a busy bus station in oneof the ten largest cities in England.