Finding a sensible solution to Bristol’s transport problems

How much will a metro cost in Bristol? This is currently an unknown answer, but initial ideas for a tunnel as part of the “Western Harbour” development were scrapped before they were even revealed to the public due to their prohibitive cost.

On Tuesday, a golden motion to be debated in plenary says that only by comparing all transport options “will Bristol be able to spend funding most wisely and deliver a public transport system of world class in a timely manner”.

The motion is put forward by Emma Edwards, Bishopston & Ashley Down’s Green Councilor, who wants a recently announced £5million feasibility study by Mayor Marvin Rees to include other alternatives rather than “putting all our eggs in one basket” with an underground system. .

“If an underground was viable, we probably would have had it by now.”

“It seems to have been in the pipeline for some time. The idea was floated by the mayor for quite a long time, but now we’re getting to a point where we’re building all these housing estates. We are growing. And we have things like the Clean Air Zone, we tell people to drive less. We need to set up a public transport system soon. We need to have a functioning public transport system.


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“Personally, I would love trams.”

“But that’s exactly where I digress. It’s not about personal taste. Marvin might have a vision of having a dungeon. I might have a vision of having a streetcar system. Someone else might have a vision of having all bio-buses or Japanese-style electric trams. But it’s not about what we want, it’s about what we can deliver the fastest. What can we start tomorrow? I’m not going to say that this motion says streetcars go to the subway because we have to do that study and find out what’s best.

Bristol’s tram network covered most of the city – photo: Bristol Archives

“What are our options that we can start doing now?”

“That’s the urgency I’m trying to convey with this motion…Right now, we’re a growing city in a climate emergency with a changing climate, and we have nothing to come Nothing’s happening Even though this thing was really about cracking down on parking on the pavement and getting those bike lanes in and delineating the bus lanes properly, increase the number of buses and lower the prices for that people can use the buses. And then, in five years, these bus lanes can be transformed into streetcar lines. For me, it’s a logical progression.

“If I was a member of the transport cabinet, I would like a parking tax at the workplace.”

“It was our last golden move. This would raise funds to start implementing public transit. I think that was a huge missed opportunity (the motion passed but with an amendment that said it would have to be approved by the administration). There must be a carrot and a stick. Encouraging people to drive less is giving them better options, but also failing to make driving the most attractive option, which it always does. Getting businesses to bear the burden of this cost and encouraging much less commuter traffic is a first step for me.

“Every time a cyclist dies on the road, we have failed.”

Things have to change… There is still a target for road deaths and we are trying to bring it down. Why isn’t it zero? I would make our goal of zero road deaths.

“I do all.”

“I have a car. I ride a bike. I use trains. I use buses. I do what’s easiest, which is usually walking if I’m going into town. it’s raining, I take the bus or I cycle. I don’t cycle much in the city because it’s quite dangerous. I cycle more if I go to the suburbs. If I go to the middle of the countryside, I I’m going to drive. If I’m going from town to town, I’ll take the train. I’ll take the fastest option and it’s usually not the cheapest option. It shouldn’t be cheaper to take the road than to take the train.

“There are people who need to drive.”

“There are elderly or disabled people, but if all the people who don’t have to drive use other things, then we don’t end up with terrible air, congested roads, traffic and dangerous driving. .”


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“We have to get people behind something.”

“I haven’t seen many people excited about an underground. When I talk about trams, people can visualize it and it excites them. People are nostalgic for trams and they can also see them as futuristic.

“Solutions must be well thought out.”

“Otherwise, these are just ideas. I think there’s a problem in Bristol, and I’ve seen that since I became a councillor, that we have consultation on consultation on consultation. Things can get quite circular and inverted. Let’s just look at Western Harbour, doing all this public engagement but not really getting far with it.

“I just can’t see a subway happening in Bristol.”

“If this were to happen, I would want to make sure they addressed issues like flooding, cost, environmental impact. If they did all of that and it turned out better than streetcars or spending on greening buses and other infrastructure and active travel, and that they’ve said that’s really the best option, I wouldn’t argue with that, but they have to first do. And they need to do it quickly… Other cities are doing things. I don’t see us cracking on anything right now and that concerns me.

“We are trying to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.”

“It has to shape everything we do, especially transportation. And that involves getting people out of cars and into other things. If Bristol’s buses were adequate they would be used more and there wouldn’t be so much traffic. We clearly need something better than what we have. I do, however, welcome the reopening of old stations and the opening of new ones, such as at Ashley Down in my neighborhood and at Portway Park & ​​Ride.

“Very small solutions can work.”

“They don’t have to be big. We’re not reinventing the wheel here… For example, e-cargo bikes are an old, improved and really exciting idea… Electric scooters are a great idea as long as they’re handled properly… They’re forward-thinking ideas that go hand in hand. inspired by ideas of the past, what modern trams do. Modern, silent electric trams are not like the old cable car trams we once had. They are much more avant-garde.

Main picture: Martin Booth

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