Bristol to London 040 coach service – a success!

A number of my friends have recommended the 040 Coach service from Bristol to London which is operated by National Express. I have been checking times, frequencies and fares to see why.

By car it is 119 miles with a predicted one-way journey time of 2h14m. By train there trains every 30 mins of so and the journey time in 1h 40m. By coach the journey time varies from 2h20m off-peak to 3h peak. There are 28 Bristol-London coach departures per day, the number was increased in 2008 to meet additional demand.

Cost wise the coach is cheapest at with return fares between £17 off-peak and £22 peak. The train varies from £59 return off-peak to £159 peak. The car comes out at £94 return (based on 40p per mile without congestion charge or parking fees) or £24 in fuel at 10p per mile.

So.. traveling in peak times one can save £139 on the return trip by taking an extra 2h40m journey time (round trip). Off-peak one can save £42 on the round trip at a time ‘cost’ of an additional 2 hours. One has to have a ‘time value’ of £52 per hour to justify traveling by train during peak and £21 to justify it off-peak.

In general the train appears to be a ‘luxury purchase’ for most people unless they value their time very highly and can’t be ‘productive’ on the coach. Equally, the car is the least productive option is the car assuming that the driver is not able to do much else in the time other than drive.

Carbon emissions: the coach wins at 10kg, the train comes next at 22kg and the car weighs in at 85kg.source data.

If one considers congestion then the coach is a bonus whether it takes cars of the M4 or passengers from the Great Western, both of which are often running at capacity.

Conclusion. The train is faster and also cheaper and more carbon efficient than the car or the coach. The coach is cheaper than both the train and the car when travelling alone even if one only count the fuel cost and has the best carbon performance. The car is cheapest with more than one person and does not achieve the carbon performance of the train.

It is therefore unfortunate that the current transport minister plans to remove the M4 bus lane which saved 3.5 minutes on the coach time in peak without significant time cost to other road users (according to research by TRL produced in 2002).

About PeterEastern
Amongst other things I am interested in the overlap between information technology and personal travel and how we can remain mobile whilst also greatly reducing the negative effects of our travel.

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