West of England Joint Transport Study

Current Issues

To decide which schemes should be developed, we must first identify the current issues on our transport network.

What are the challenges we experience travelling around the area?

The West of England benefits from its location on the UK's strategic motorway and national rail networks at the gateway to the South West and South Wales and is also home to two international gateways. Bristol Port, Britain's most centrally located deep sea port, has good road and rail connections, and Bristol Airport handles more than 6 million passengers a year. The airport is undergoing an expansion programme including a new terminal and public transport interchange.

Effective transport links are a critical ingredient in the West of England's economic success. But the area faces challenges from the current quality of travel options, traffic congestion and the reliability of transport networks. This makes it difficult for people to get around and impacts on business productivity. Although most people in the West of England live and work within the area, travel-to-work patterns are often complex. There are large movements into central Bristol from across the West of England and from west Wiltshire into Bath. There are also complex movements to and within the north and east fringes of the Bristol urban area.

What are the key transport issues facing our area?


While parts of the West of England have higher than average levels of walking and cycling, much of our area suffers from limited transport options which results in high private car use. This is most pronounced at the edges of the Bristol urban area and especially so in parts of South Gloucestershire and in North Somerset towns.

The area also has low levels of public transport use, especially in urban areas, although passenger numbers have increased significantly in recent years.


The West of England is a prosperous area which experiences significant congestion on the motorway network, core radial routes, and around main employment centres.

Key problems include:

  • Longer, less reliable journey times.
  • Lack of resilience in the road network that struggles to deal with disruptions or accidents.
  • Impact on economic competitiveness and reduced accessibility to jobs and services.
  • Impact of heavy traffic congestion on reliability of bus services.


Despite the overall prosperity of the West of England, a number of communities face significant challenges, including poor skills, poor health, low incomes and deprivation in some parts of our area.

Transport has a role to play in providing the connections for people to access jobs, training and other services. We also need to take into account changing working patterns, demographic changes which is seeing our population increase and grow older and advances in technology.

Road safety is also an important consideration. The West of England has made good progress in reducing road casualties; between 1994 and 1998 an average of 472 people were killed or seriously injured each year, by 2014 this had reduced to 277 a year.


The Joint Spatial Plan, which will map out strategic locations for housing and employment up to 2036, is being carried out in parallel with the Joint Transport Study. It is estimated that at least 85,000 new homes will be required.

The Strategic Economic Plan also includes an ambition for 95,000 jobs strongly focused on the Enterprise Zone, Enterprise Areas and the South Bristol priority growth location.

Even taking into account the current transport improvements, this growth will have an impact on our highways and public transport network.


Studies state that road traffic contributes around 30% of total carbon emissions in the West of England.

Whilst generally transport emissions per person are in decline due to more people walking or cycling and because of more fuel efficient vehicles, with future population growth it may be difficult to reduce emissions.

The West of England has several Air Quality Management Areas where levels of harmful emissions are regularly above acceptable levels. Noise caused by traffic levels is also an issue in many rural and urban areas. Too much traffic negatively impacts our often historic and attractive urban environments and rural tranquility.

What do you think of these issues? Are there any other issues that you feel we should consider?

Last modified by West of England 4 years ago