Transport Vision

How ambitious should our 'Rapid Transit' proposals be?

Whilst rapid transit can be delivered in the form of a bus-based mode, our ambition on some core routes is for a light rail (tram) mode where the potential is greatest for high passenger numbers. Corridors which have potential for a light rail mode are:

  • —East Fringe to Bristol city centre; —
  • North west Bristol to city centre; —
  • Avonmouth and Henbury loop; —
  • Bath to Bristol;
  • and —Airport to Bristol city centre (light rail or heavy rail). 

There will be different options between street running and full segregation from road in order to deliver these. Rail-based rapid transit systems are more expensive than bus-based systems, but can be higher quality and achieve a greater level of patronage, particularly from passengers previously using a car to make that journey.

In addition, extensions to the MetroBus network are proposed to Nailsea, Thornbury and Yate, and a consolidation package to build on the benefits of the first MetroBus routes currently under construction will further improve bus lanes and renew signal junctions, particularly in the city centre.

‘Tram-train’ options (where trams run on railways rather than tram lines for part of their journey) have been investigated as a possible alternative on some of the core corridors highlighted. However, capacity on the rail network will be very constrained following the delivery of our MetroWest schemes, and adding further capacity to enable high frequency tram-train services could be very expensive. We will, however, continue to explore these options where possible.

What is proposed for local rail improvements?
The ongoing and committed improvements to the rail network in the area are substantial, including electrification, enhancements at Temple Meads and Parkway plus MetroWest Phase 1 and 2. Further service enhancements and new stations are envisaged thereafter, including: better links within the Avonmouth/Severnside enterprise area; new rolling stock with increased capacity; and extensions to electrification are also possible. The redevelopment of Temple Meads station, whilst primarily promoting sustainable transport choices for trips to and from the station and surrounding area, also includes the return of rail services into the `passenger shed’ to increase platform capacity.

What is proposed for local bus services and Park and Ride?
Most public transport passengers will be on the local bus network. The structure of the network will need to change to reflect the redevelopment of the Temple Meads Enterprise Zone, refocussing bus services to better serve this area including the Arena, and integrating more closely with better interchanges and rail and rapid transit services.

Local corridor improvements in the form of more bus lanes, new vehicles, better ticketing and information will follow the standard set through MetroBus, and be strongly linked to the growth in urban living within our main urban centres. We are also exploring whether new bus franchising powers or enhanced partnership arrangements that may be available to the authorities could help maximise the value of the network improvements for passengers.

The transport vision has an emphasis on a network of further park and ride sites on the core radial routes into Bristol, Bath and Weston-super-Mare. Further park and ride sites, with a wider network of services, are expected to reduce congestion on main roads and in urban centres, particularly where there are problems with air quality. The approach to Park and Ride is also strongly linked to bus and rapid transit routes, and the growth in urban living in Bristol, Bath and Weston-super-Mare, as it will help intercept car trips from further afield and enable capacity on radial routes to be prioritised for sustainable transport modes.

In addition, a Bristol city centre package aims to create better places and improve the reliability and resilience of the transport network in central Bristol. It includes a range of measures including: enhanced traffic management, increased bus priority, continuous safe cycle routes, and enhancements to the public realm.

What is proposed for strategic routes and freight movements?
The West of England’s strategic transport network is of both national and local importance with significant benefits for trips being made from further afield. We will look to improve these routes including better strategic rail services to a range of locations including Oxford, Birmingham and the South West. We are also keen to improve links to Hinckley Point and north-south road connections, and are working with neighbouring authorities to develop complementary schemes along the A350 corridor to the south coast.

The West of England is a major origin and destination for freight traffic, including Bristol Port, whilst its strategic transport networks also cater for freight travelling through the area. There are high freight volumes on the motorway network and other major routes, and significant increases in van traffic are also forecast. We are looking to tackle congestion which will also benefit freight movements, particularly to and from Bristol Port. We will support the provision of capacity improvements to help facilitate rail freight movements on the strategic network, including those enabled through electrification.

We are proposing to improve routing and management of freight movements in urban areas, with a particular emphasis on air quality, including sourcing funding for Freight Consolidation Centres for Bath and Bristol to offload goods outside the cities and transfer them to their destination by low emission or electric vehicles.