At last night’s State of the City annual address, I was excited to announce that we are in the process of working towards a Heads of an Agreement with FirstBus which will bring a huge change to the bus services in Bristol.
The City’s transport problems have been well known for years, damaging our economic potential, while reducing air quality, keeping communities segregated from each other and isolated from our city’s success.
There was an approach that assumed cars and congestion will simply disappear if we made life difficult for car drivers. This approach does not work, and does not represent the interests of our economy or city.
The only thing which will have an impact on congestion and on people movement is presenting people with a real choice. This is why, in order to tackle congestion, we must generate mass transit options that are better, cheaper and easier than car travel.
The agreement will create a partnership that will look to deliver a doubling of number of bus journeys based on long term and sustained public and private investment in the bus system.
Working with our partners at the West of England, the aim of the agreement will be to double bus usage to 20% of all journeys. This ambitious target will be achieved through a combination of investment and action by both us and FirstBus including:
- Enhanced service frequencies on the core network, doubling the frequency on main routes.
- Greater Service stability through increased enforcement of bus lanes and highway improvements
- Use of new technology to inform where services are most delayed
- Extension of quality and frequency of services into less well served areas.
I am also pleased that FirstBus have agreed to work with us towards a standard flat fare, covering the whole city.
We know that because of Bristol’s social geography, the less affluent parts further out are paying more for their bus journeys to the city center than the wealthier areas do. This means those people who have to rely on public transport might not be able to do so as often as they want, while we disincentivise potential users and commuters who could make the change to help congestion. Our approach will change this, making bus fares fairer for the whole city.
This demonstrates our commitment to an inclusive economy though connecting the entire city to opportunity and jobs, while also making sure Bristol is connected and accessible.
By growing the use of public transport, we will have a flightpath to the development of a mass transit system. We are well on our way with the feasibility studies and the latest report will report in December. What we do know though, is the more we look at the options, the more we know this can be done.
We are working towards a segregated mass transit system for Bristol that will use infrastructure and tunnels to deliver a truly transformative transport option for the city.