Dawn warns mayor Government funding will be lost if he "tinkers" with BRT
Bristol South Labour MP Dawn Primarolo has warned city mayor George Ferguson that "tinkering" with the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system threatens to kill off transport funding from the Government for a generation.
The Mayor has revealed he wants to change the BRT route from the Long Ashton park and ride site into the city centre so buses do not pass in front of the M shed museum and over Prince Street Bridge.
But Ms Primarolo says that Mr Ferguson's review of the scheme will put Government funding for the project in doubt.
She said: "Throughout the election, the Mayor indicated that he would stop BRT, and seek to use the funding for alternative transport proposals.
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"Two Transport Secretaries have confirmed to me that this would not be possible. However, I would have had some respect for the Mayor if he had done as he had previously suggested, and fought Bristol's corner.
"Instead, he has announced, unilaterally on Twitter, that he will make a significant alteration to the route. BRT has been drawn up painstakingly over six years – to make changes like this now will see years more delay while congestion gets worse.
"To make these changes while we are still awaiting the outcome of the Public Inquiry is rash, premature and ill-judged. I have asked to see the advice the Mayor was given, to see whether he took a considered decision, or if he is simply acting on a whim.
"During the mayoral election, the 'Bristol Disease' of delay and indecision was frequently discussed, and many Bristolians thought that Mr Ferguson's business experience could get things moving.
"The reality is that his announcement puts the whole package of Government funding in doubt. Worse than that, it risks damaging Bristol's reputation in Whitehall for a generation.
"I wish that the Mayor had been more considered in his comments. However, we are where we are. It is now imperative for him to find an alternative route quickly and cost effectively, so that we can finally getting on with making the transport improvements Bristol needs, rather than just talking about them."
Mr Ferguson has told The Post he has ordered a review of the system and has been talking to transport experts in Whitehall about the changes.
He said: "I have been speaking to members of the transport executive and I have made it clear I will not accept the rapid transit system on Prince Street Bridge or on the Harbourside.
"I have asked for a review to be carried out and this will have to take place pretty quickly as we are working to a timetable.
"I want to get the BRT system out of the Harbourside but we need to move speedily on this, because we do not want to lose the funding from central Government."