Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Metrobus on the railwaypath? Again?

the West of England partnership, henceforth known as the Bringers of Woe, have a consultation on a transport vision for the future.

Key points
  1. More people are going to live in Bristol
  2. More people are going to live Weston Super Mare, despite evidence to the contrary.
  3. More people are going to live in middle of nowhere dormitory towns near bristol, and hold unrealistic expectations about being able to commute into the city 
So, they have come up with a vision. That's a sort of a value between "no idea whatsoever" and "have a clue". Interesting to read, and so derive goals not just of Bristol, but the Outer Wilderness

North Somerset doesn't want anyone cycling to Bristol. We knew that, but their map doesn't even show the existing Festival Way as "a strategic cycling route", let alone propose it actually continue the extra 1-2 miles to reach as Nailsea. Instead they want an uprated A38 and a few tens of millions making the M5 more dangerous by turning the hard shoulder off at peak hours. Most interestingly the A38 to go to the M5 in a new junction. It's not clear what that will do, but apparently "This corridor experiences severe congestion ". If that statements is true, then the adverts for the Junction 21 Enterprise Zone you see while wasting hours at passport checks at BRS are lies. The advert? "15 minutes to Bristol". The reality? Not a chance. Yet here we are, with North Somerset saying "good transport links" on the J21 site, yet "experiences severe congestion" in another. One of those two statements is false —and if its the advertising, someone may want to complain.

Suggest: N Somerset consider alternative transport options to sitting in a traffic jam on the M5, and be open about its issues in the J21 site.

South Bristol doesn't get a callout of its own, just coverage in Bath to Bristol corridor. There's a small problem here in that the key public transport route between the cities is the train —and central government have removed electrifying this stretch of line from their "vision". That is, not even on some random future deadline which they can postpone, it's an outright "we don't plan to do this". Which means that the one change which would have really improved carrying capacity on the line, reduced transit times and pollution from trains in the cities? Gone.

Saltford is promised a bypass.

They also discuss LRT -Tram- along "the A4 Corridor". That's an interesting term there, as it doesn't mean "Along the A4", it just means "along the Avon Valley". There are two other options there (ignoring tarmacing the river). There's the train line, and then there's the Bitton-Bath stretch of the Railway Path, the stretch which has the steam trainists practising their hobby on a weekend. Could this be time to reinstate steam trains between Bristol and Bath? Brunel would be proud —they didn't have electricity in his day, after all.

Suggest: residents of South Bristol may have transport issues of relevance too. Anyone who cycles in Bristol might want to look more closely at the LRT routing.

Avonmouth, Shirehampton and Clifton Villages

Still a vision of getting the Henbury train loop in; still a vision for some more stations. Gloucester Road to Filton  and beyond and Whiteladies Road/A4018 to Cribb's causeway down as Strategic Cycling Routes. We have no idea what that means, and suspect the WoEP don't either, other than it means "no need to care about it anywhere else". Not that being a strategic cycle route will stop anyone painting out the bike lane.

Other points
  1. "enhancements to the public realm". This is planner-speak for spending money on brickwork rather than functional transport systems.
  2. There's not a single mention or illustration, anywhere, of people walking other than the phrase "cycling-and-walking" where the money will be split and each group will get their half of a pavement which will now have a white line down the middle. Yet for the inner core of Bristol and Bath, walking is the primary transport option. (we have no idea what it is for W-s-M, it probably involves riding a goat). 
  3. Page 14, or "other charging mechanisms.". That's either a parking tax, Low Emission Zone tax, or a c-zone charge.
And finally, a look to the north east. That dashed green line? "Light Rail Transport —Route to be determined"

Unless you are going to build a tram line down up Fishponds road, there is only one place to put anything in there: the Bristol to Bath Railway Path.

The last time the WoEP wanted to put a bus down there, there was a mass uprising of inner Bristol, with some support from outside. Doe they really think things will have got better now? Do they not realise that killing the path for the sake of a slightly faster commute to/from Emerson's Green is going to be acceptable? Not a chance.

Suggest: recognise that the traffic volume, walking and cycling, down the BBRP is higher than any tram can achieve, and doesn't cost £2.6B. Council would be better off filing plans to run trams down there into the box of "stupid ideas we will pretend we never considered".

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