Mayor pledges shake-up of Bus Rapid Transit scheme
BRISTOL'S planned Bus Rapid Transit system will not run through the Harbourside, the city's mayor has pledged.
George Ferguson has told The Post that the controversial public transport scheme is to undergo a major shake-up, with the route changing to avoid the area in front of the M shed museum and Prince Street Bridge. Critics have claimed that plans to run the scheme's Ashton Vale to Temple Meads route through the heart of the Harbourside would ruin the popular area – but there were fears Bristol would lose out on Government grants worth at least £30 mil- lion if the scheme was altered.
Mr Ferguson has confirmed 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.
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"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."
Groups opposed to the route include the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance, the Bristol Civic Society, Tram company Sustraco, cycling charity Sustrans and the Ramblers Association, who made their objections clear at a public inquiry into the route held last summer.
The Bristol Civic Society said the system would do substantial harm to the area and raised concerns about the 42 buses per hour which would pass along the dockside.
The group argued that the route between the Cumberland Road Tunnel and the M shed would harm the appearance of listed buildings and the character of the docks, a conservation area.
A campaign group calling itself StopBRT2 was launched and the scheme was labelled a monument to the stupidity of local councils.
Meanwhile, an online petition opposing the plans has already attracted more than 3,000 signatures.
Mr Ferguson said: "I do not want to abandon the scheme altogether but I think we need a major rethink.
"What I would like to see is a transport hub at Temple Meads which would be at the centre of the network.
"What we will probably see is the BRT creating a circuit around the city centre, with Temple Meads at the centre of the network."
Mr Ferguson added that transport was one of his major priorities.
He said: "If this city is to operate well, it has to have a public transport system that works.
"I make absolutely no apologies about tackling the transport issues in the city. If we leave things the way they are at the moment, we are in danger of driving businesses out of the city."
During the election campaign for mayor Mr Ferguson made it clear he was not happy with the plans, which had taken several years to draw up under previous administrations.
He also said that if elected he would put BRT on hold until a review had been carried out by transport experts.