Bristol's beleaguered Metrobus service finally launches

A new Metrobus Image copyright Travelwest
Image caption Each of the new buses features USB ports for every seat and free wifi

The first of Bristol's long-awaited dedicated Metrobus routes has finally begun operating.

The launch, originally planned for the end of 2017, has been dogged by delays, ticketing problems and rising costs.

Passengers on the m3 route - the first of three - from Emersons Green into the city centre will get free rides for the first two weeks of the service.

Initially estimated to cost £190m in 2015, the bill for the network has since risen by £40m.

The m2 service, from Long Ashton park and ride via Temple Meads to the city centre, will start in the autumn.

Following that, the m1 route from Hengrove to Cribbs Causeway, will begin operating in January.

First Bus, who will operate the initial service and invested £1.5m in the route's vehicles, claim fares will be amongst the cheapest 2% in the country.

Image copyright TravelWest
Image caption The Metrobus route is the first of several expected to be launched in coming months

Managing director James Freeman said: "We are very excited about the launch of this new Metrobus service.

"Metrobus promises to revolutionise bus transport in Bristol and South Gloucestershire by offering a premium service, faster getting on and off, and speedier travel by virtue of the dedicated road infrastructure and off-bus ticketing."

The company's double-deckers are equipped with USB charging points at every seat and free wifi.

The prioritised bus routes - billed as "the first buy-before-you-board service outside London" - will link North Somerset, Bristol city centre and South Gloucestershire.

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