Plans reveal future of Bristol's public transport
THE fine details of what Bristol’s brand new £200 million public transport system will look like have been revealed for the first time.
Plans and drawings of the new rapid transit system for South Bristol have been published as part of a citywide public consultation which is expected to take around two months to complete.
Once these consultations have finished, three separate planning applications will be drawn up and submitted for approval. If all goes to plan, work on the new roads, junctions and dedicated bus routes should start next year.
The Government has approved a £120 million funding package for the new South Bristol Link – a combined road and rapid transit route for buses to travel between the A370 Long Ashton bypass and Hengrove Park, including new cycle and pedestrian facilities.
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Together with two other routes – Ashton Vale to Temple Meads and the North Fringe to Hengrove – the new network is aimed at easing the city’s chronic transport problems.
It will mean commuters, shoppers and tourists will have direct access to Bristol’s city centre from the northern fringe of the city and right through to Ashton Vale and Hengrove where the new leisure centre, swimming pool, skills academy and community hospital are based.
They will also open up new areas for business and Temple Meads will create a transport hub for the network, right alongside the recently- opened Enterprise Zone.
Extra funding will come from local councils although a scheme which could see a charge on parking spaces provided by companies in Bristol is also likely to be introduced despite widespread opposition from the business community.
Bristol City and North Somerset councils are in the process of drawing up detailed planning applications for the South Bristol Link section of the new network. Public consultation on the plans for south Bristol have already got under way and they are due to start on the North Fringe to Hengrove section within a matter of weeks.
The new network will include dedicated bus-only routes, new bus stops and an automated, easy-to-use system with up-to-date information, fast boarding and smartcard ticketing.
Passengers will be able to use smartcards on local train and bus services in the same way the Oystercard system operates in London.
Before the planning application is submitted this autumn, people are being invited to give their comments on the plans and attend exhibitions.
Three public exhibitions are being held where the plans will go on show and the team behind the project will be on hand to answer questions.
The full engineering drawings, as well as aerial photographs with the new route overlaid on them have also been published on internet at website Travelwest.info
People living in the area affected by the new routes are to get leaflets in the post about the consultation and public exhibitions are being held at:
l Long Ashton Village Hall on May 9 (2pm to 8pm)
l Gatehouse Centre Hartcliffe on May 16 (5pm to 8pm)
l Withywood Community Centre on May 22 (2pm to 6pm).
The North Fringe to Hengrove consultation starts on May 17 and runs until July 13. The Ashton Vale to Temple Meads public inquiry starts on May 22 and is expected to last for about three weeks.
As part of the improvements a new road is being built in south Bristol. The single carriageway link road will connect the A370 Long Ashton bypass to the A38 near the Town and Country Lodge Hotel, and onwards across Highridge Common.
Minor widening will take place along King George’s Road, leading to a new section of road along the route from Queen’s Road to the Hareclive Road junction.
Whitchurch Lane will be also extended and widened to link the A4174 at the Cater Road roundabout and onto Hengrove Park using the existing road.
A spokesperson for the West of England Transport Partnership said: “We would now like to hear views on the design on the South Bristol Link part of the network to ensure all potential issues have been considered before the planning Application is submitted to Bristol and North Somerset Councils in autumn 2012.
“A report on the consultation and any changes made to the plans as a result of the consultation will be submitted with the final planning application in autumn 2012. At that stage people may comment on the scheme again before the planning committees in Bristol and North Somerset make their decision.”
Meanwhile it emerged last week that four companies are still bidding to run the new Great Western rail franchise. The new franchise starts next spring but it has emerged that Spanish firm Renfe has now dropped out of the biding process.
First Group – which has run the rail services since 2005 as First Great Western – in still in the running along with National Express and Stagecoach and German railway firm Deutsche Bahn. First Great Western did have an option to renew its contract, but instead chose to bid for a longer 15-year deal.
The franchise will be one of the most important in the history of the mainline between Bristol and London, as it will run during the £2 billion electrification of the route by Network Rail, with major disruption expected for several years around Swindon, Chippenham, Bath and Bristol.
A decision on the franchise winner is expected in December.