Saturday 26th November 2022
Welcome to the penultimate AtoZ of public transport in 24 mid size British towns. Yes; despite all the speculation about eXmouth and Zennor, I’ve conceded defeat for X and Z but for today’s W, I was pleased to pay a visit to Weston-super-Mare a few weeks ago and see the progress on painting the town’s buses green and yellow with the resurrection of the Badgerline livery and with thanks and apologies to Max for not being able to take up his suggestion of a visit to Wrexham – I opted out of succumbing to the Avanti chaos.
Weston-super-Mare has a population of around 75,000 and falls within the Unitary Authority of North Somerset which also covers Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead.
The town lies about 25 miles south west of Bristol and 33 miles north of Taunton with Bath 45 miles to the east. Bridgwater, Glastonbury and Wells are all about 20 miles away.
Public transport is overseen by an organisation called ‘travelwest+’ which has its logo on bus stop plates throughout its sphere of interest which includes Bath and Bristol as well as Weston-super-Mare. It incorporates a + sign which always reminds me of a pharmacy logo.
The town lies on a (roughly) two mile single track loop off the main railway line from Bristol down to the West Country which also includes a minor station at Weston Milton about a mile to the east as well as one at Worle three miles east on the main line itself.
Weston-super-Mare’s station has two platforms where the line is double tracked for a short stretch.
Great Western Railway runs an hourly stopping service from Weston-super-Mare calling at Weston Milton and Worle and all stations to Bristol and on to Severn Beach; although in the reverse direction trains for Weston-super-Mare only start at Avonmouth with Severn Beach originating trains only travelling as far as Bristol. There’s also an hourly stopping train from Cardiff to Taunton which calls at Worle and Weston-super-Mare and some peak journeys also at Weston Milton usually run by GWR’s short formed HSTs.
Trains between Weston-super-mare and London only run at peak times with four in the morning and two in the late afternoon and evening although there’s an hourly service from midday on Saturdays and four journeys on Sundays.
Back from London there are eight journeys from mid afternoon on Mondays to Fridays, twelve on Saturdays and eight on Sundays.
During my visit a few weeks ago First Bus operated two inter-urban links from Weston-super-Mare to Bristol. The twenty-minutely X1 (red on the above map) follows a direct route taking 65 minutes while the hourly X5 (green on the above map) took a longer route via Portishead and Clevedon with a lengthy 1 hour and 40 minutes journey time, however more recvently this has been cut back to Portishead as noted in the Comments below.
Both routes serve their purposes well. I’ve travelled on both the X1 and X5 on previous visits and found both to be busy along their respective routes. This time I noticed good loads but also a few occasions where two buses were running together as they arrived into Weston-super-Mare.
Another major inter-urban bus route serving Weston-Super-Mare operated by First Bus is the Weston Airport Flyer. This provides a daily timetable with hourly departures from as early as 03:05 right through until 23:05 to Bristol Airport via Worle, Congresbury and Cleeve taking 38 minutes to complete the journey.
Last bus back from the Airport to Weston-super-Mare is at 00:10.
Branded ‘Airport Flyer’ single deck buses are used on the route with a bespoke livery to enhance its profile.
Weston-super-Mare has two main cross-town bus routes – the 3 and 7. I took a ride on both during my visit.
Both were busy but the double deckers used on route 7 were definitely needed, as a mid afternoon return journey from Haywood Village picked up a bus full (literally) of students who’d just come out of Weston College heading for the town centre and on towards Worle.
Both routes serve Worle to the east of the town but by different routes. Route 7 is definitely the main route for the town for busyness. It runs every 20 minutes.
Haywood Village is a newish housing area built to the south east of the town on a disused airfield. You get the idea of what it might look like from the road pattern on the OS map.
And it’s just like you’d expect in reality.
Route 3 is operated by single deckers and links Worle with the town centre and on to a large Asda at Searle Crescent.
It also runs every 20 minutes.
The other town route, route 1, was still being operated by open-top buses on my visit in early October with some hardy souls taking shelter under the closed top at the front during the wet afternoon.
This route offers some great views on its way out to Sand Bay to the north of the town via Kewstoke and close to Worlesbury – hence its all year round operation to serve those residential areas.
It runs every half hour with a handy pick up at the railway station in the summer but during the winter is hourly.
The route hugs the coastline …
… as well as passing through Weston Woods.
Other bus routes to be found in Weston-super-Mare include the hourly 20 to Burnham ….
… and the Stagecoach operated hourly 50 which operates cross town from West Wick to Hutton.
First Bus also run route 51 on a two-hourly frequency to Wrington via Banwell, Sandford and Langford. Banwell and Sandford used to also be served by hourly route 126 but as explained in a recent post this was withdrawn at the beginning of October.
One interesting development since I was last in Weston-super-Mare is the creation of an ‘interchange’ with 11 bus stops served by all town and inter-urban services, as well as express coaches in Regent Street alongside the town’s large Tesco supermarket.
Previously buses used bus stops further west along Regent Street closer to the seafront but it was very cramped there with insufficient space but these arrangements offer much more room and each bus stop has clear departure information ….
…. as well as two free standing electronic signs showing upcoming departures of both buses and trains.
There’s a similar ‘interchange’ facility up the road in Worle too alongside a large Sainsbury’s supermarket and other large retail sheds which also has real time displays.
I was quite impressed with the service provision of both buses and trains serving Weston-super-Mare considering its challenging location in relation to neighbouring towns on the coast making it a bit off the beaten track.
Previous AtoZ blogs: Andover; Bracknell; Carlisle; Durham, Evesham, Folkestone, Grantham, Harrogate, Inverness, Jarrow, King’s Lynn, Leamington Spa, Maidenhead, Neath, Oswestry, Potters Bar, Queensferry, Runcorn, Salisbury, Tunbridge Wells. Uttoxeter, Ventnor.
Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS with occasional Su specials including tomorrow on “Growing rail revenue”.
Although a very long time ago doing my accountancy training at Badgerline Holdings PLC as it then was I spent many hours at Oxminster Crescent Although actually based at Heron Lodge of Midland Red West the company then under Trevor Smallbridge and Ken Mills was a very happy and progressive company to work with and very profitable. I think many now forget how well Midland Red West gave West Midlands Travel a good run for thier money in Brum in the late 80s and early 90s & then we all wene on a bind date with a man called Moir…….
I think that you may have been at Oldmixon Crescent as that is in Weston Super Mare – and was served by the 40 which was renumbered 105 in the mid 60’s
Yes Andrew it was 29 years ago always think of it as Oldmimster as times go by, very happy memories especially as a 23 year old on your first week being put thru a PCV mind you that has come in very useful since especially as one of our clients is a local coach company in Brum.
Badgerline used to include all of the Bristol Omnibus ountry services, including Bath, and thus served Corsham and Chippenham in Wiltshire where I live. Badgerline buses are fondly remembered, shame it all went downhill with First. Indeed First abandoned my part of Wiltshire leaving it to Faresaver who offer a far better service.
Original Badgerline livery on a VRT at Chippenham bus station.
Always remember when I was at MRW we had a surprise Centro tender at very short notice and although Merc 609s were the standard mini bus of MRW none were operated out of DH so a batch of Ford Transits arrived from Badgerline & went straight into service on Brum locals in full Badger & Flags livery they certainly stood out in the Bull Ring Bus Station but were not popular at all with the drivers & management ended up doing many of the duty workings until a batch arrived in full Centro livery of Talbot Pullmans…….
The new W-s-M interchange may have some advantages over the previous Regent Street stops, but what a pity it is further away from both the sea front and the High Street shops. It is also further from the First Group office on the High Street, adding time to driver change overs.
I’m disappointed you didn’t visit Ashby de la Zouch for your ‘Z’ – assuming it is served by buses!
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Yeah apologies both Oxmixon & Smallwood were changed by the auto correct facility on my Samsung A71 unfortunately I hadn’t noticed it before I posted it but thank you both for correcting it.
It’s just Travelwest, not “Travelwest +”.
The X5 now only goes as far as Portishead on weekdays only, it no longer runs to Bristol and there is no weekend or Bank Holiday service.
Perhaps the start of a (short) new series based on towns with French words in their name?
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…. by Mr French.
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Trevor Smallwood, not Smallbridge!
Yes, still a reasonable area for buses in spite of recent reductions. My own experiences recently not quite as positive, with 20s running progressively late (thanks in part to some passengers taking longer to purchase a simple ticket or produce a pass than I have previously arranged mortgages!) with virtually no recovery time, and continuing staff cuts on the X1. And yes, the Interchange is a little too far for those with walking difficulties, but with no other option, better than nothing.
Their used to be an hourly First Group 126 Weston to Wells via Cheddar, which has recently been cut to operate Wells to Axbridge only with only 6 journey’s Monday to Saturday, & is no longer operated by First Group
There needs to be a couple of corrections, while I’m guessing the time of visit was the summer as the 1 and 20 are now hourly on their “winter timetables”. The corrections are, the 20 does not run open tops, hasn’t for a couple of years and is closed top deckers. And as someone already mentioned the x5 no longer goes to bristol and terminates at Portishead, it returns back to W-s-M from there.
Many thanks for the feedback which I’ll update.
Really nice writ up though, it is a nice town with great links to Bristol and surrounding areas
The number 7 bus is a very annoying and unreliable service in Weston. It is suppost to be every 20 mins, it used to be every 10, but in the morning when all the students need it, its more likely to be every 50 mins and full 2 stops after it departs from the first stop in Worle. Quite often busses also randomly terminate in the town-centre rather than carrying on into Haywood Village, meaning all of the students have to get off and wait for another to take them to their campus on Loxton road. Its a very unreliable service indeed, and Weston recently saw most of its bus services within the town get scrapped by Firstbus. Why Weston College doesn’t just run a student bus is a little beyond me, but I have a feeling that First would pull out of Weston if the students stopped using their routes.
Weston S Mare rail station actually has 3 platforms as there is an unnumbered north (Bristol direction)facing bay but it doesn’t seem to be used for passenger trains.It might be used for track work machines and maybe empty stock?
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Many thanks for that gem Kevin.
First transforming travel in Southampton!
This area has suffered badly in the recent cuts. The 126 hourly service from Wells to Weston was such a useful link. What is left is a bit like when rail lines were first shut – cut out the bit in the middle – run an hourly service one end – and a 2-hourly service the other end – resulting in less use of both services. They could easily market this service much better as it links the seaside with 2 tourist attractions – Wells and the Cheddar Gorge.
Portishead now has the worse service ever while it waits for a train service -maybe in 2025. A few years ago they had a 15 minute daytime frequency to Bristol and an X5 service to Cribbs Causeway & Parkway station. Now they just have one rather slow and unreliable service that does not even service Temple Meads station. Nor do they have a direct bus service to their nearest station at Nailse & Backwell.