Bristol Flyer bus route a "poor introduction" to the city
A BRISTOL businessman has claimed tourists are being given a poor introduction to the city due to the route of the airport's shuttle bus, which takes it through South Bristol.
Arne Ringner, right, the owner of the Glassboat Restaurant and the Clifton Lido, believes international visitors are given a "glum" introduction to Bristol as the Bristol Flyer runs through Bedminster.
And the airport has revealed that when the new Rapid Transit is introduced, the long-term plan is to shift the route out of the area.
Mr Ringner has described the suburb as the "back end" of Bristol and a poor gateway to the city. He has also called for the service to be rerouted so new arrivals would be treated to close-up views of Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Cumberland Basin and the Harbourside rather than West Street and Bedminster Parade.
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Mr Ringner said: "When I am rattling into Bristol on the airport shuttle it makes me feel glum. As these buses head down West Street I despair. Visually West Street is the absolute back end of Bristol and such a poor entrance portal. Coming into Bristol over Cumberland Basin is a joy with views of the Suspension Bridge and the ss Great Britain."
The views have led to an angry response from the West Street Neighbourhood Group. Secretary Stef Brammar said: "I take issue to the reference to the area we live and work in as a 'back end' and 'backwater'. Whilst we have been actively campaigning for many months to improve West Street as a major gateway to the city, many of us actually live here out of choice – because of the area's many cultural and arts activities, interesting shops and eating places, and rich history.
"Most of all it's the local community which enriches life on and around our historic high street, neglected for far too long by the city's planners and landlords. West Street has provided an entrance to Bristol for hundreds of years."
Many people along the route catch the bus, which makes regular stops.
Ben Barker, from the Greater Bedminster Community Partnership, added: "West Street is indeed a rather poor introduction to the beautiful city of Bristol. That is why we are working with local people to improve the street.
"Of course, West Street has been in decline for 20 years or so, so turning it round is not going to be easy, cheap or quick."
A spokesman for Bristol Airport said: "The experience inbound tourists gain of Bristol is extremely important to us at the airport. This was a key reason behind us investing over £2 million in a complete replacement of the Flyer bus fleet in 2010, in order to provide comfortable, safe and reliable journeys.
"In the immediate future changing the route will not be possible. At peak times of the day, the time saved by using the current route can be significant.
"One of the key considerations for an airport express service is that journey times must be consistent and reliable.
"The bus priority measures on the current route help to deliver a predictable journey time even during traffic congestion, whereas the susceptibility of Winterstoke Road and the Cumberland Basin to delays from congestion could adversely affect the punctuality of the entire service.
"Another element we have to take into consideration is the 100,000 journeys per year that are made on the service by airport staff, many of whom live in south Bristol. A circular route would make it particularly difficult for staff to use the service as it would greatly increase journey times and put more car journeys on to already congested roads in the area."
The spokesman added that proposed new transport schemes in south Bristol will enable the Flyer to use different routes in the future.