Next steps for improving Bristol’s bus routes

Councillor Donald Graham is pictured smiling, with trees and College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Donald Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport and Labour Councillor
for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston.

As a growing city, we need to transform the way we travel in Bristol and make more sustainable forms of transport, including active travel and public transport, more accessible and reliable. 

For this to happen, we need a public transport service that is fit for purpose. Alongside regional plans to improve rail travel and our long-term vision for a mass transit system with underground sections, we are working on changes to key bus routes through Bristol to improve the experience for users.

We know that people travelling by bus look for a quick and reliable service, and that this is a major factor when deciding how to do the daily commute to work or study. That’s why we have been asking for views on plans to improve a number of main bus routes, known as strategic corridors.  

The routes we are looking at include the A37/A4018 and the A4 Portway. We’ve also recently added the A38 south Metrobus extension to the programme, and are working across the city centre to deliver infrastructure improvements for buses and bikes, as well as the wider public realm. The West of England Combined Authority is now leading on the A4 Bath Road improvements.

When we met on Tuesday 2 May, Cabinet considered plans to speed up the delivery of the number 2 bus route project and agreed funding arrangements for the overall strategic corridors programme.

Following on from two rounds of community engagement on the plans for the A37/A4018, which follows the number 2 bus route from Stockwood to Cribbs Causeway via the city centre, we have agreed to split the project into three phases.

This will include drawing up full business cases for the central and southern sections and continuing to work on an outline business case for the whole route, including the northern section.

Our new approach means we’ll be able to get started sooner on the central section, which includes the Victoria Street and Colston Avenue bus lanes, as well as the south Bristol section, which goes from Temple Meads to Stockwood, while we review the northern section, from Park Street to north Bristol.

We agreed that we need to spend a bit more time reviewing the options for the northern section of the route due to the complexity of the design and the impact it could have on the rest of the transport network.

At Cabinet, we also heard how the initial plan was to invest £3.5 million in designing all the strategic corridors schemes, but we now project that they will cost almost double this at £6.1 million, due to the scale and complexity of the projects.

We have agreed to seek the extra funding from the West of England Combined Authority, through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement. It won’t come out of the budget for running other services or our £2.4 million Pothole Action Fund!

The strategic corridors programme will not only prioritise the bus service, but it will also make walking and cycling easier and safer, while overall helping to reduce congestion across the city, reducing carbon and improving our air quality.