At my Annual Address to Full Council last night, I talked about how transport remains a key challenge for the city. We know how important it is for us to improve people movement in Bristol and help connect people to economic opportunity, jobs, education and leisure.
We will only do this though systemic changes to the way people travel in and to Bristol. While we explore the feasibility of mass transit systems, we are driving partnerships to the core of our strategic approach to transport in the region.
The Congestion Task Group has been crucial to this. It has delivered some quick wins and we will now continue that progress with the creation of a Transport Board to bring together the expertise of city partners with the knowledge of our own transport team, to face this key challenge.
By building strong relationships with key city partners, we are developing a sustainable transport model for Bristol. First Bus has already converted over 150 buses to low emission or low carbon fuelling, and continues to provide accessible bus routes that cater to the needs of people across Bristol. Our collaboration also allows us to provide free bus vouchers to help people travel to interviews and training opportunities. My administration continues to invest in public transport and cycling infrastructure to effectively manage traffic, and more people in Bristol are walking, cycling, and using our buses. National links with Network Rail and Great Western Rail allow us to connect Bristol with opportunities across the country.
However, if we are really going to deliver the transport system Bristol deserves, we need to develop and act on a long term vision. I talked last night about how I do not support the flawed belief that modal shift will occur simply by making it harder to travel around the city. The transport challenge in Bristol will only be overcome by offering an affordable and sustainable alternative to the private car, not by making them feel like the enemy.
This is why we are being ambitious and focusing on delivering a mass transit system. Delivering projects of this scale takes co-operation and involves working collaboratively and I grateful for the support of neighbouring authorities so far. We will be announcing more progress on that soon.
While some who lobby for transport projects have their own prejudices and preferences, I am focussed on outcomes: connecting people to people, jobs and opportunity. It is my aim that by working with experts from across the city, councillors from all parties and neighbouring authorities, we can deliver the effective and comprehensive transport system for Bristol we can be proud of.