By James Short
Augmentor Ltd and member of the IoD committee
I have trawled high and low to find a joined-up, simple-to-read, easy-to-understand statement of the Transport Strategy for Bristol and its surrounding area. I am still searching…
The Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study says it will “develop a series of integrated multi-modal transport strategies over time (detailed strategies for 2011 and 2016 and broader, high level, strategies for 2021 and 2031) for the study area identifying, analysing and appraising solutions on the national strategic transport networks, on the local strategic transport networks and at the interface between them, so as to improve strategic transport movements into, out of and through the study area”.
Hmmm, you might say, not hugely user-friendly.
So next I turned to the West of England Partnership, which consists of Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire councils. They have been coordinating public transport in the Greater Bristol area and have prepared plans for “Rapid Transit”.
Unfortunately, under pressure from the Government their proposals have been centred on improvements to the bus network under the title of the ‘Greater Bristol Bus Network’ and is now concentrated on so-called ‘Bus Rapid Transit’. So what happened to the other schemes?
Next I turned to Travel+ – a website managed by the West of England Partnership. Their website says: “The Travel+ schemes all fit together to create a network of realistic, integrated and sustainable transport choices that offer a real alternative to the private car for local journeys and should help encourage us to change our travel behaviour. Travel+ projects will help manage congestion and deliver real choice, helping to maintain our quality of life and support future economic growth.”
The choice of tense in describing what they will do is interesting as I can find no evidence of the schemes all fitting together in something that will be delivered in even the mid-term future, the only plan I could find was the 2006 -2011 plan but are we not in 2011 now??
Incidentally, the four councils claim to have combined to produce a joint transport plan for the years 2011-2026, with read it here hyperlink… sadly this reveals an “error on the page”, so as it is not accessible, I am no wiser.
So what is so difficult? The IoD has been approached to give a view on the prospective levy on the business community to raise £40 million to help pay for the scheme! My first question is – what scheme, delivered to whom, by when? Because if it is not going to happen as part of a comprehensive and soon to be delivered benefit to me – why should I pay?
The Chairman of the IoD has stated that: “The Institute of Directors recognises something has to be done to improve the current transport infrastructure in the city and that additional revenues need to be raised to meet the shortfall in funding for the Rapid Transport System.
“However, we feel that any levy raised should not be restricted to the business community, rather it should be targeted at all stakeholders in the city, of which business is one.”
Fair point I would argue, because there are many householders who would benefit from improved transport links: to and from the airport; commuters from the largest cul-de-sac in the UK (Portishead); the south Bristol link to name but a few.
So where is the strategy that I can read, understand and support? Because I too, like many other road users, hate sitting in traffic jams or have the roads clogged with stationary traffic as I walk or use my bicycle.