Have your say on plans to boost A369 Portishead–Bristol bus services


Residents, community groups and businesses are being asked to put their views forward to help shape new proposals for public transport improvements at Rownham Hill, on the A369. 

Rownham Hill, where Bridge Road and the Ashton Court access road join the A369, has been identified as a significant source of congestion for buses along the A369 bus corridor, and is a key location for potential bus infrastructure improvements to make journey times quicker and more reliable. 

The online survey on the concept designs is now open from Wednesday 7 February until Friday 22 March 2024. The views and comments received will help to directly shape the final infrastructure designs: https://n-somerset.inconsult.uk/BSIPrownhamhill/consultationHome 

Rownham Hill is serviced by the popular X4 bus service connecting Portishead and Bristol, which currently carries around 71,000 passenger journeys every month, with demand expected to rise. It is currently able to run every 20 minutes an hour in peak times, up from 30, due to a subsidy of £380,000 a year from the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). By implementing bus priority infrastructure changes at Rownham Hill, alongside others on the A369, the X4 service will be better placed commercially to sustain its 20-minute frequency – resulting in a sustainable service that will be able to continue to meet the needs of the community once BSIP funding ends.  

The proposed scheme for Rownham Hill would see:   

  • New bus lanes added on both A369 approaches to the junction  
  • An upgrade of the junction traffic signals to give priority to approaching buses. The junction would be linked to the nearby traffic signals at Beggar Bush Lane, once the works on those are complete, to improve traffic flow and allow public transport to take priority 
  • An upgrade of the bus stops on the A369, in the vicinity of the junction, would also be planned over the next two years, creating enhanced waiting facilities for both Leigh Woods residents and visitors to Ashton Court    
  • Improved access into Ashton Court for cyclists is also being considered. 

Cllr Hannah Young, Executive Member for Highways and Transport at North Somerset Council, said: “Delivering the proposed changes at Rownham Hill would make bus travel faster, more reliable and help make the bus a realistic option for more people – helping to increase usage and secure the future commercial viability and frequency of bus services like the X4 once BSIP funding ends. 

“The proposals for Rownham Hill form part of a bigger picture of improvements to bus travel and its supporting infrastructure, helping to increase connectivity across our beautiful region. It is one of a number of schemes which together will reduce bus journey times across the whole network, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds for taxpayers in bus subsidies.  

“We want as many people as possible who know and use these routes to have their say on the concept plans. By feeding local knowledge into the developing designs, we can create a public transport system that works for as many of us as possible.” 

The concept designs being proposed are part of North Somerset Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), funded by the Department for Transport. The council has been awarded £48 million by UK Government to invest in its ambitious BSIP package of bus travel upgrades, along the key A369, A38 and A370 bus corridors, by March 2025.  

Proposed BSIP schemes include new bus lanes, bus gates, and smart traffic lights that detect and prioritise buses, helping to incentivise reliable, efficient and sustainable bus travel. This is alongside the roll-out of cheaper passenger fares, including the £2 bus fare cap, free birthday month bus passes, and free bus travel for care-experienced young people in North Somerset. 

Read more about BSIP at https://n-somerset.gov.uk/my-services/parking-travel-roads/transport-travel/bus-travel/bus-service-improvement-plan 

Notes to editors 

About the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) 

The Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) supports our commitment to create a bus transport network that will become faster, more convenient, coordinated and better for the environment and your pocket than running a car. 

In 2022 we received over £105 million from the Department for Transport (DfT) to improve bus services by 2025, with £48m set aside for capital improvements in North Somerset and a further £57.5m in revenue funding to be used across North Somerset and the West of England Combined Authority region. This was the second largest grant in the country. 

Working in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority, our local BSIP supports our vision to encourage everyone to ‘walk or wheel’ where possible, helping to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2023. When that’s not possible, bus travel is encouraged to be the first choice over car usage, helping ease traffic congestion and creating a greener way to travel. We are delivering this programme by working closely with local bus operators.   

The new package of more frequent and reliable services and lower fares has resulted in a 19% increase overall in bus patronage since April 2023, across our local network, with a 24% increase in the inter-urban corridors.  

  • Our BSIP has already funded new bus lanes on the Long Ashton Bypass and the A38 at Barrow Gurney to ease traffic to and from Bristol International Airport and on the A369 at Beggar Bush Lane where smart traffic lights have also been installed to detect and prioritise buses.  
  • A new bus stop has been installed at Worle National Rail Station for the A3, with links to the West Coast main line. 
  • The X5 has been re-routed to serve Congresbury, Yatton and Kenn on-route to Clevedon and Portishead, reconnecting the residents to these key areas. 
  • The X4 now runs every 20 minutes, up from 30, due to a BSIP subsidy of £380,000 a year (until March 2025). 
  • X1 now runs every 15 minutes Monday to Friday and every 20 minutes on Saturday evening and services on Sundays are still running every 30 minutes. 
  • The £2 bus fare cap for all passengers continues until December 2024. 
  • Launched free travel offers including the Birthday Bus fare offer in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority. 
  • Launched a trial WESTLink service – an innovative demand-responsive transport trial designed to take passengers from areas less well served by buses and connect them to key bus corridors. 
  • Infrastructure improvements that reduce journey times will make buses more reliable, frequent and attractive for customers, reduce the number of cars on our roads, improve local air quality, and help us meet our 2030 net zero target. 
  • New and upgraded transport hubs, modern bus shelters, rapid electric vehicle charging, and better cycling and pedestrian facilities, are also planned for key areas in North Somerset under BSIP.