Bristol set to make strides in transport improvements over next four years
The next four years could signal significant improvements in transport for Bristol according to the bosses of the biggest providers in the city.
Direct flights to New York from Bristol could return within a few years while the expectation is for the train line between Bristol and Portishead to reopen by 2017.
And all the key players said the intent for a more integrated transport network across the area exists, during a debate on the city’s transport organised by the Institute of Directors.
Chief executive of Bristol Airport, Robert Sinclair, said the airlines behind the New York route remain in contact with the airport and the hope is that flights could return to Lulsgate within a few years.
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“It's probably more of a medium term goal rather than in the next year or two, it depends on the economy and recovery,” he said.
He said the route was a victim of the global financial crisis and aviation tax.
“Continental, now United, had a very positive experience with the west country and south west, they liked the market here, had a good following and said they would return when the market conditions are right.”
Matthew Golton, First Group Director predicted that there will be trains to Portishead by 2017, if not earlier and said that providing better access to the railway by opening up more stations would have an impact.
Justin Davies, First Bus, said that in an ideal world there would be “complete freedom of speed and access along the road network” so that journeys could be planned without the issue of variability.
He said the reason more people use First buses in Leeds than Bristol was that the average road speeds are faster than in Bristol.
Alan Bailey, chairman of Low Carbon South West, said it is difficult to get around the Bristol area without using a car.
“I would love to be able to go to a local station and hop on a train to Temple Meads and get me around the city in a safe manner, he said.”
Janice Sinclair, of Brislington-based Taste Tech Ltd said her employees and lorries struggle to get to their Bath Road site.
"Every single employee uses a car to get into work, there is just no other way."
Mr Davies suggested more personal journey planning while Professor Graham Parkhurst, from UWE's sustainable transport and society centre brought up the issue of car sharing. And Mr Davies took the challenge of getting some of Taste Tech's staff out of their cars.
Mike Wheeler, of South West Transport Development suggested that Plot Six next to Temple Meads should be used as a transport interchange, as a terminal for buses, taxis and ferries.
“If I need to go from one place to another what mode of transport will get me between them, whether it's two buses or a ferry, it's about changing seamlessly from one mode of transport to the other,” he said.
Mr Davies agreed that plot six could be a “good opportunity to put so many more of our services into one single place”.
Referring to the suggestion that improvements could be seen by 2017, George Ferguson said he would need another term, or "seven and a half years" as mayor to sort the city's transport out.
“I think we are working better together,” he said after joining the debate following his budget meeting.
“I think there's good work between local councils, we occasionally have the odd tiff about the occasional aspect -usually over transport - we are genuinely working well together and see it's in our common interests.”
"There's recognition that Bristol is the engine that drives the local economy but nevertheless it's hopeless if it just works on its own."