A NEW free shuttle bus is being laid on to help people stranded by the closure of the A432 bridge over the M4.
The half-hourly weekday service starts from 7am on Thursday, September 14, to ferry passengers along Badminton Road from the Yate Park & Ride via Coalpit Heath to Cuckoo Lane, just north of the bridge.
From there pedestrians can walk across the bridge to reach the Metrobus stops on the Avon Ring Road by the Wick Wick roundabout in Downend.
National Highways, which closed the bridge in July after cracks were found in the concrete structure, is paying for the new bus service, which is being run by bus company Transpora under contract to South Gloucestershire Council.
Each journey is expected to take nine minutes, with the first buses of the day leaving Cuckoo Lane at 7am and Yate Park & Ride at 7.24am.
The last bus in each direction will leave at 6.13pm from Cuckoo Lane and 6.38pm from the park & ride.
It will stop on request at all bus stops on the road, linking up with Y1 and Y2 stops at the Park & Ride and in Coalpit Heath, and with the metrobus m3 and m3x at Wick Wick, by the Willy Wicket pub.
The service is initially running until the end of the year, when National highways is expected to give an update on the future of the bridge after completing its survey work.
Commuters have faced jams and long diversions on the main route between Yate and Bristol since the closure, with the return of schools after the summer holidays adding to the volume of traffic.
Council leader Claire Young said: “We understand the closure of the A432 Badminton Road bridge has caused significant disruption, and have been working closely with National Highways to minimise the impact of their work on our residents.
“Some elderly and vulnerable residents have been telling us they have been left isolated as their normal bus services have been cut off by the closure.
“We raised this with National Highways and are pleased they have agreed to fund a shuttle bus to link up with regular bus services.
“We also hope this will help more people use public transport rather than battling with the extra congestion the bridge closure is causing on our local roads.”
Cllr Young and co-leader Ian Boulton recently visited the bridge and were shown the damage first-hand by National Highways engineers, with a video uploaded onto the council’s YouTube channel.
The agency said: “Options development work will take place in parallel with analysis where possible, and we anticipate a decision on next steps in December.
“The council will be included in discussions and kept fully informed as matters progress.
“During this time, we will fund a shuttle bus to mitigate some of the disruption to public transport on the A432.
“We understand people’s frustration at the disruption in the locality and we appreciate your patience as we work towards a solution.”
The council maintains the local road network but National Highways is responsible for the bridge over the motorway.
More information on the bus service and the timetable can be found here
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service