£20 million – just for bendybus paperwork
THE controversial bendybus scheme will initially cost more than £20 million – just to sort paperwork.
Tomorrow Bristol city councillors will be asked to approve spending £5 million.
Cabinet councillors are expected to approve the spending.
The total start-up costs for all three routes into Bristol is more than £20 million.
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Bristol's share is £11.6 million, of which £5.65 million is needed for the £49 million route between the park and ride site at Ashton Vale and the city centre, known as BRT2.
The start-up costs are mostly consultants' fees for design work, legal costs, compulsory purchase orders, transport and highway orders, planning applications, town and village green applications and statutory notices.
Transport campaigner Pip Sheard said: "We will be out in force tomorrow night to urge the councillors not to waste any more money on this flawed scheme (BRT2).
"It's absolutely outrageous to spend any more money after all the evidence at the public inquiry showed what a poor scheme it is.
"The money could be better spent on trams or reopening some railway stations."
Bristol's transport leader Tim Kent admitted that the start up costs were "unbelievable".
But he said they would be much more for a tram than a rapid transit system and it took at least two years to carry out all the work needed to present a business case for a major transport project.
He said: "I agree that it does seem a shocking amount of money – but that's what it costs these day for transport schemes.
"We're talking about design engineering, sample testing, consultancy fees, legal costs – work which has to be carried out by experts because we don't have the expertise ourselves.
"It would be much more expensive if we employed the staff to do it."
He said that transport schemes were highly complex and unless all the work was carried out thoroughly, a scheme could be derailed by a technicality. He said that thousands of pages of evidence and information are presented at public inquiries but inevitably the inspector says that more work should have been done on specific issues.
The consultants invariably take this on board so the issue is automatically covered at a future inquiry – and the mountain of work continues to spiral upwards.
South Gloucestershire Council is stumping up £4.4 million of the total development costs while North Somerset is giving £5.7 million.
The first route to be completed is expected to be from the park and ride site to the city centre which will be followed by the route from the northern fringe to Hengrove. The third route is the South Bristol Link.
The Government is backing the bendybuses with funding but all the elected mayor candidates have expressed concerns and three of them have said they would ditch the scheme.
Transport campaigners are also fighting against the bendybuses because they don't believe they will solve Bristol's traffic problems.
They prefer a much cheaper ultra light rail system which would link up with the Greater Bristol Metro – the reopening of local rail routes and stations.
Cabinet councillors are told in a report that the rapid transit network is vital to Bristol's future prosperity.
The report says: "The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has a target to deliver 95,000 jobs by 2030.
"Further to this will be the challenge of delivering 72,000 new homes and associated jobs by 2026 which will further strain a transport system that already suffers from chronic congestion because the development of transport infrastructure and services has not kept pace with economic development and expansion in the area.
"Investment in the rapid transit network will be key to delivering this economic growth."