Transport Vision

What are the current and future challenges for our transport network?

The transport network in the West of England experiences significant traffic congestion, and for many people transport options to make their journeys can be very restricted, with the private car sometimes being the only viable choice to travel to work, shopping , school or college. This situation is reflected in the fact that 64% of us commute by car, which also reduces air quality in our towns and cities and affects our health, and restricts people’s ability to access job opportunities, particularly for those of us living in less affluent areas.

We need to turn this situation around, so that people no longer have to rely on driving a car to travel to work, and can make that trip by public transport, cycling or walking as their preferred choice. In particular, we would look to reduce our proportion of trips made by car substantially, and reduce the amount of time it takes to make journeys across our network.

West of England Commuting Proportions (%), 2011 Census

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We are starting to make significant progress in encouraging sustainable transport choices. We have already delivered some major public transport improvements, such as the Greater Bristol Bus Network, Bath Package and Weston Package. In particular, cycling, bus passenger and rail passenger numbers have all grown substantially as a result, and we travel by cycle and walking at a significantly higher rate than equivalent city regions like Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

Copy of Chart - growth in sustainable transport modes

Our strategic transport network, such as our motorways and railways, plays an important local, regional and national role, and its performance can have significant implications which affect the performance of the UK economy. This importance will be further emphasised through the need for connectivity to developments such as Hinckley Point and the southern coastal ports. Further improvements on the strategic network have also been completed, such as the M4/M5 ‘Smart Motorway’ scheme (involving controlled use of the hard shoulder) by Highways England, and additional platform capacity at Bristol Parkway station by Network Rail. There are also significant proposals for redevelopment at Bristol Temple Meads station.

Moving forward, the West of England authorities have a clear programme of investment in further schemes; MetroBus and MetroWest, which are currently either under construction or are due to start in the next two years, with strong links to our Enterprise Zone and Enterprise Areas, whilst Network Rail is implementing the Great Western Railway Modernisation (which includes electrification of the main lines from Paddington).

However, we still have a long way to go. The resilience of the strategic highway network is also vulnerable to incidents, which can have both local and regional repercussions. Furthermore, many of our radial roads into the city centres struggle to provide for cars and goods vehicles, reliable public transport services and better cycling and pedestrian facilities.

The transport network also has a key role to play in supporting the continued economic growth and prosperity of the West of England. This means transport investment that better connects our key economic activity areas to enable us to remain competitive nationally and internationally. It also means supporting future growth in both housing and jobs, and will need to have a key role in improving the setting of our urban areas by reducing the impact of road traffic and promoting the use of sustainable transport modes. Some of this growth is already set out in the councils’ local development plans which deal with development until 2026. Proposals for future development after this point to 2036 will be set out in the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which is closely linked to the transport vision.