Guided bus route will ruin harbour, fears campaigner
AN opponent of plans to create a £50-million guided bus route through Bristol believes he has found an ideal alternative – at a fraction of the cost.
Software developer Dave Gott says a new inbound bus lane along the A4 Hotwell Road and Anchor Road would deliver the same benefits as building a new guided bus route between Ashton Vale and the city centre.
The 52-year-old believes a new inbound bus lane would help buses reach the city centre more quickly, negating the need for a new bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
Mr Gott says the BRT system will fail to deliver on its promise to halve journey times between Ashton Vale and the city centre to nine minutes.
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He believes the new route, which would comprise a concrete guided track for buses to run along, will only serve to spoil some of Bristol's "crown jewels" including the historic Floating Harbour, Prince Street Bridge and the dockside railway.
Mr Gott is one of 30 people and organisations to have registered an objection to the scheme ahead of a public inquiry due to take place later this month.
Living in Cumberland Road, close to the proposed BRT route, Mr Gott admits he has a personal reason for objecting to the plans. But he believes allowing the new transport system to be introduced would be a bad move for the city.
Mr Gott, who has been living in Bristol for 16 years, has set up a website in opposition to the scheme at www.savebristolharbour.org.
He said: "The whole idea is totally bananas – they are completely mis-selling it.
"They say it will link the park and ride at Ashton Vale to Temple Meads, but it doesn't run to Temple Meads.
"It also won't be rapid – the guided section will be in eight sections because of the bends and inclines along the route. The buses will have to slow to ten mph to get into the guideways and back out again.
"I think using the BRT will be slower than using the buses that already exist."
Explaining his alternative solution, Mr Gott said: "You've got a bus lane in Anchor Road and Hotwell Road going out of the city but inbound there's no designated bus lane.
"The road is miles wider than Cumberland Road (the proposed route) and it wouldn't involve spoiling or interfering with the harbour, which is the city's main tourist attraction.
"The BRT will also affect the Chocolate Path, which is a really pleasant place for walking, jogging and cycling, but now it will have diesel bus traffic along it."
It is not clear whether bendy buses – which are buses which resemble two single-deck buses joined together by a pivoting joint – or a different type of vehicle will use the route, which is due to open in 2015.
Although £30 million of funding for the project has been agreed by the government, the public inquiry starting on May 22 will determine whether or not the scheme can go ahead.
Tim Kent, city councillor in charge of transport, believes having a bus lane on both sides of Hotwell Road and Anchor Road would devastate businesses based along the stretch due to the loss of parking spaces.
Mr Kent said: "The buses would still get caught in a traffic jam as they come over the flyover in Anchor Road as they reach the city centre.
"It would give you a few minutes' advantage. But the advantage of the BRT scheme is that it is on a dedicated, separated route until it gets to Prince Street Bridge so there's nothing in the way."