One fifth of the UK’s damaging greenhouse gas emissions come from road transport and that’s a problem that I’m determined we must address here in Bristol.
There’s much we can do as individuals to reduce our own transport carbon footprint and I recommend a look at the Council’s dedicated Climate Hub website to get some ideas.
However, if we regard this as a challenge for individuals only then we ignore the fact that many of our citizens have limited choices, perhaps due to disability, age, gender or job requirements. We need to take bold action now to open up choices for all and incentivise the movement away from carbon intensive modes of travel and into more sustainable modes.
In practice, what does this mean?
Active travel: We need better infrastructure for walking and cycling. Our Liveable Neighbourhoods strategy will offer an approach to transforming residential areas into places where active travel is an appealing option.
Buses (the vehicles themselves): We need to work with our bus operators to decarbonise their vehicles. This is happening now, building on the successful Bus Deal which brought in biomethane buses on the Number 2 route. Options now being looked at include electric and hydrogen powered vehicles.
Buses (infrastructure): Building on the Bus Deal, we need to make further changes to our strategic roads which will give priority to buses over more damaging modes of transport. Further plans for the A37/A4018 are about to be released for public consultation. Improving the reliability, speed, and the cost of using the bus cannot be achieved simply by increasing the number of vehicles. That would simply lead to yet more congestion.
Buses (network): A network based around radial services might work for a town but in a city the size of Bristol we also need orbital routes with hubs where travellers can change between modes of transport. In addition to this, more integrated ticketing and accurate travel information is being planned to improve patronage of all forms of public transport. Read WECA’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, which was recently submitted to the Department for Transport, here.
Mass transit: Our vision for public transport must be bold. There are strategic corridors in the city where it simply won’t be possible to achieve the level of segregation for buses that would make them the attractive alternative to cars that they need to be. We must plan underground alternatives for some corridors.
To achieve all these things, we need increased Government funding. We also need Bristol residents to embrace the citywide challenge we face to reach Net Zero by 2030 and the recognition that we all need to live and travel differently.