A view on MetroBus

James Smith offers his views in this update on MetroBus

The greatest waste of transport cash in Bristol’s history continues on with a seemingly unstoppable momentum. The Secretary of State accepted the inspector’s report from the public inquiry that allowed the scheme to proceed.

The Mayor was only able to divert it away from the Harbourside since a “poison pill” contract signed by the previous Bristol City Council administration would have landed Bristol with the entire bill for costs to date, some £9million, if he had kept his promise to cancel it.

Given the construction and operating cost risks as detailed in the last issue of Better Bristol, this might have been a bargain lost.

A planning application was submitted on December 9, 2013 for the revised route along Cumberland Road. It has been out to consultation; there are more than 240 documents registered, including a long list of objections by local residents and others who have actually thought about the plan. The application was approved on March 19, 2014. It is worth reflecting that the application still claims, among other things, the scheme will “improve safety along the corridor by reducing the use of private cars”.

The West of England Partnership’s consultant’s figures show a projected car journey reduction due to the scheme, by 2031, of 0.2% – with the car still accounting for 90% of journeys. This is about a 500-trip reduction in a total of 180,000 persons per day. The use of the Park and Ride is forecast to be less with the scheme than without it. Will anyone notice the difference? I very much doubt it.

The transport benefits are so nebulous that the latest PR ploy is to sell it as a flood defence and Ashton Bridge protection scheme. Laudable objectives, but not part of an integrated transport strategy.

If any of the scheme’s champions, say Councillors Tim Kent or Gary Hopkins, would like to explain how this is good value for £42m and counting, in plain language, I am sure the editor of Better Bristol [and the BCS website] would be happy to publish it.

Meanwhile, stump up your £14m council tax contribution while we make £85m of cuts in the rest of the budget.

James Smith
0117 914 1010


Bristol North-West MP Charlotte Leslie has expressed concern over the lack of consultation. Bristol247 quotes her as follows “Although ultimately MetroBus may well prove to be an asset to the city, when local bodies and individuals are required by statute to be consulted, they must be consulted to have their say to ensure that appropriate mitigations can be made. I would therefore like to be assured that the council has revised their timescales in order to give proper and adequate time to consult with bodies like LVNDF [Lockleaze Voice Neighbourhood Development Forum] who should have been statutory partners in the planning process from the outset.”

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