Construction of Bristol’s public transport system will start by 2030, says mayor
Marvin Rees explained how the Bristol area’s long-awaited public transport system will begin to take shape by the end of the decade. The city’s mayor said diggers are expected to move in to start work by 2029/30 on projects involving both overhead and underground routes.
He spoke at a City Council cabinet meeting where members formally accepted Bristol’s allocation of £191 million for public transport projects from the City Regions Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) government over the next five years to the West of England Combined Authority (Weca). They have also approved a 20% local contribution from Bristol City Council of £38.2m which is needed to release the money, such as £48m for the strategic M32 corridor, including a location not yet identified for a park-and-ride, meeting on Tuesday, April 5.
Improvements to transit routes, the Long Ashton Metro service and the Bristol to Hengrove Metrobus line, as well as making stations more accessible and offering two pilot ‘livable neighborhoods’ schemes, are promised, but will all require approval of business cases by Weca. Mr Rees said: ‘There have been political games, political denials on public transport, but it’s a very simple process.
Read more: Marvin Rees goes underground within a decade
“You put the best on the table, you clearly define what is best for Bristol as a city with the greater Bristol area of 1.2 million and growing which is predictable transport , segregated and decarbonized that transports people around the city, connects them to each other and opportunities and sustains us economically and culturally. You are looking at possible ways to provide this solution to the city. Then, having put all those solutions on the table, you start working through a process that will test a whole bunch of questions around the solutions you come up with – above ground, below ground, whatever they are.
“He will look at the routes, the technology available, the costs, the technical ability to go above ground, underground, he will look at the scale of the investment needed, the return on investment, the number of passengers, a whole range of criteria. And as you go through this process, some solutions will come out as viable and some less viable and you’ll start to eliminate them, so you’ll start to focus on the possible options, you put a yes or a no.
Mr Rees said that until this process is completed, “all options are open until they are ruled out”. The Labor mayor said: ‘So it’s a perfectly reasonable approach to say ‘Which is best for Bristol? Let’s test all these solutions until they can’t be tested anymore and find out what’s left on the table,” and that’s the process we’re going through.
“It was so disheartening at the last full council meeting to hear people say it can’t be done, before we’ve even tested whether it can be done or not. It lacks so much ambition for the city. So that’s the process we have to follow. We have constantly worked on this.
He was referring to a debate on a Greens motion on March 15 calling on Weca to take a deep look at alternatives to the Tube, such as trams and trams, which were unanimously approved after Labor said it was already happening. Everyone agreed that a metro network was “not the ultimate solution” for the region’s public transport system, while advisers from other opposition groups called the idea a “whimsical” and “pie in the sky” metro.
A clearly exasperated Mr Rees said the debate should be “bottled up” because of all the negativity. Speaking to the cabinet on Tuesday, he said the potential timeline for transit depended on levels of political support and focus in the region, and that early consultation on 19 different options for transit had already been delayed. but should end soon.
The mayor said: “These documents are fine with us, but they are waiting to be made public. If we go ahead, by September we can start working on the strategic business case – £7m has been allocated for this.
“If we can move forward on this, by mid-2023 we will commission the business case, and £10m is allocated in the combined authority to fund this, but if we can get that much political agreement as possible, then this process will move forward. all the more quickly. By 2024/25 we could receive the business case, but the speed of this will also depend on the ability of the strategic business case to narrow down the options.
“At the moment we have 19 options available to us. If you keep 15 options on the table, obviously the process is smaller, but if this strategic business case is faster to eliminate options that are not viable, then we’ll have a smaller number of programs and we’ll move faster, which is what we would advocate for, and then by 2026/27 we can be with the full business case – again, that depends on the success of previous processes – and then by 2029/30 we could be digging holes, having shovels in the ground for the mass transit system.
He said all this work should have happened years ago, but future city leaders should reap the benefits of its construction and provide the necessary public transport system.