Swansea’s eye-catching articulated buses are to be replaced with ordinary single deckers in the next two to three weeks, enabling the city council to modify a controversial road layout.
The Metro cross-city service, launched in 2009, was the biggest application of the FTR – shorthand for “future” – transport concept promoted by FirstGroup, using bespoke buses which resembled trams.
Ahead of the Metro’s launch, Swansea CC invested about £10m in bus infrastructure, including a two-way bus lane along the Kingsway road, which otherwise is a one-way street.
However two pedestrians died after being struck by contra-flow buses there, and the authority intends to amend the layout this autumn. The articulated buses’ manoeuvrability limited options for diverting eastbound Metro services away from the Kingsway.
Justin Davies, managing director of First Cymru, said the decision to introduce ordinary buses was taken independently of the Kingsway deliberations. New vehicles were significantly more efficient, the FTR vehicles would have needed mid-life refurbishment, and articulated buses were no longer fashionable in the UK.
‘It will still be branded as Metro. The vehicles will be route-branded. The city council very much wanted to keep Metro as a brand,’ he said.
Each vehicle has three doorways and on-board customer hosts sell tickets and provide travel advice. Those features have aided rapid clearance of crowds after events at the Liberty stadium, home to Premiership club Swansea City.
Additional buses would be deployed after major events at the stadium. The 17 hosts would be redundant, but several had found other employment at First Cymru.