Bristol will be left behind like Cinderella unless trains and buses brought under local control, warns report
BRISTOL runs the risk of becoming a "Cinderella city" if it fails to take control of its transport system, according to an influential pressure group.
The claims from the Campaign for Better Transport came at the same time as leading city commentator claimed the city's economy is being hobbled by its poor traffic infrastructure.
The Campaign for Better Transport has issued a report which points to Bristol as a prime example of a city which suffers as a result of its local control over transport.
The organisation has pointed to Merseyrail and London Overground as examples of where local management has given transport schemes a major boost.
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Talks are taking place in Bristol to set up a new transport board involving the four local authorities and business leaders but the campaign group is calling for a more radical approach.
Stephen Joseph, the chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Too often local train services are the Cinderellas of the rail network – the routes in London Overground and Merseyrail certainly were.
"Control by the local transport authorities has transformed them. They are reliable, well-used and have some of the highest passenger satisfaction on the entire rail network. Going Local shows that passengers and communities are the winners when rail franchises are run locally. Using this model more widely would mean Cinderellas across the country could go to the ball.
"It makes sense to devolve responsibility for regional rail to those who understand it best. Local and suburban routes around Bristol are a clear candidate for this. It would both improve services and help restore confidence in the franchise system."
Transport for London and Merseytravel took control of local services in 2007 and 2003 respectively, performance and satisfaction have improved, and passenger numbers have increased.
There have also been improvements at stations, better industrial relations and falls in the amount of fare-dodging.
Meanwhile, industrial and commercial experts at Bristol-based property firm Colliers say that the city's transport problems are holding back the local economy.
The sheer numbers of commuters making the trek to business hotspots such as Aztec West and the lack of infrastructure to manage it is highlighted as a particular problem.
The company has been responding to Bristol mayor George Ferguson's decision to set up a new traffic team to get the city moving once more.
Sustainability and property management specialist Mike Bull said: "A great example of the problem is Aztec West – if you work there then realistically your only option is to drive.
"This adds to the congestion problem and exacerbates the chronic shortage of parking in the area which in turn constrains the growth of what is otherwise a successful development. Time and again we hear tenants raising concerns over parking and prospective tenants sceptical about getting their staff to work on time.
"We've got too many cars and not enough options available to give commuters a viable alternative. Public transport isn't taking as many people off the road as it does in other comparable cities, in no small part due to the high cost of fares and the fact Bristol's buses have to negotiate choked cross city routes along with thousands of commuters trying to do the same."