First Somerset & Avon operate route X1 between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare using former First Devon & Cornwall Enviro400 double deckers. The transfer was discussed in Sunday Lost Scenes a few weeks ago. Today I'm going to look into the service in a little more detail.
This was how the X1 looked last October. Weston-super-Mare operated Volvo B7TLs and Volvo B9TLs on the route. The branding was applied on the First livery. X1 services operated half hourly, supplemented by the slower 352 or 353. This is Volvo B9TL 37315 (WX57HJO) picking up passengers in Weston town centre last Autumn.
The X1 has just been given a facelift. Using the former Plymouth P&R Enviro400s, the route has been transformed into an even better express route. Although slippery for some, the leather seats have provided more comfort. The route has been increased in frequency to every 20 minutes - now 4 buses an hour combined with the slower 352 or 353. There is also wifi on board.
This is how the Mon-Fri timetable looks. The Saturday timetable also has 4 buses per hour - a welcome development for First under the new management. The buses take 54 minutes for the route end to end. This is significantly longer than some of the train times (any First Great Western HSTs or X Country Voyagers are timetabled to take 17 minutes). However, the stopping train services take 35 minutes (average time 28 minutes), but then a leather seated Enviro would offer more in terms of quality than a Class 143 or 150. Furthermore, the bus is more flexible arriving in either terminus, able to serve right into the local community.
Here are the buses. All but three are in this livery - 33412 is in paint, 33413 is in the new First livery, with 33419 awaiting repaint. 33418 (WA56FTT) looks great as it heads along Rupert St on 11th August.
Some First brands can be accused of being rather minimalist. This livery cannot be accused of being so, and is a great example of the new vision of First - an all over dedicated brand of high quality buses, specifically allocated to the route. Although I'm sure someone will prove me wrong, I haven't heard of one of these being off route yet either. 33411 (WA56FUB) departs Bristol bus station on 11th August.
Thumbs up for First - these do look very good.