Why is Metrobus bad for Bristol?

VIDEO: The Blue Finger from Joe Evans.

The Blue Finger, an area in the north of Bristol (a UK major city), is rich with the country’s best agricultural soil.

Traditionally the heartland of Bristol’s market gardens, the Blue Finger Alliance is working on feeding Bristol again with fresh, local produce, grown by local people.

Last week, bad news for the Blue Finger Alliance.

The council gave the go-ahead for a controversial new transport scheme requiring the building of new roads and a bridge.

The scheme will swallow up about half of the Stapleton allotments, according to Travel West, and threatens Feed Bristol, an Avon Wildlife Trust project which teaches growing skills.

In the council chambers where the scheme was voted for (six to four), campaigners sang Joni Mitchell’s song:

“…you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”

The ‘rapid transit’ bus route is intended to provide faster links between Bristol’s train stations.

Sounds good – in theory. The city desperately needs a functioning public transport.

But building new roads does not improve public transport.

By all means, increase buses, revive disused train lines, engineer tram systems.

But build new roads? That’s a hidebound to nowhere.

“Road-building generates even more traffic,” says the Campaign for Better Transport, “damages the countryside, adds to climate change and makes cities, towns and villages less pleasant places to live for everyone.”

Bristol is the 2015 European Green Capital, a prestigious award supported by Bristol 2015 Ltd, created with Bristol council. Yet this scheme is the opposite of what Bristol Green Capital stands for.

The Metrobus scheme is a waste of precious resources, and a heartbreakingly backward step for a sustainable future-proof Bristol.

STOP PRESS (added 02.02.2015): Treetop protest from 1 February 2015 against this week’s planned felling of the trees.

Pip Sheard from Alliance to Rethink MetroBus says: “The Stapleton tree felling is  the start of a year of Metrobus environmental vandalism. Each month will bring fresh damage and loss to our local green spaces,” reports Bristol247.

 

 

21 responses to “Why is Metrobus bad for Bristol?

  1. It would be a sad day to lose precious inner city land used for growing food and keeping Bristol unique and in good health

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    • Hi Geraldine – yes, a very sad day. Poignantly, I was in a Bristol Green Capital meeting when I got the news. Here we are preparing to celebrate Bristol as European Green Capital in 2015 – a healthy and sustainable city – a vision promoted and supported by Bristol city council. And then we have this planning decision by another part of the council to decimate Bristol and increase pollution, to no great benefit (apart from profit for road builders).

      [Apparently the new route will also rip through the city centre fountains and mess with the swing bridge near the Arnolfini. [The last sentence needs checking. Added 2.9.14]
      30.11.2014 According to a Change.org petition, the route of BRT2 (now renamed Metrobus) was taken out of the Bristol harbours and Prince Street, thanks to campaigners’ protest.

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      • Geraldine, agreed with issues at Feed Bristol, but allotment size if going to be larger than is existing – just relocation of allotments. The feed bristol site i agree is a shame. But the route is neither touching the bridge near arnolfini nor going through the fountains, the large reallocation of space from road to public realm will make the Centre a hell of a lot nicer than it is at the moment. Suggest you investigate the facts before spouting spurious stuff.

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  2. Instead of making good/cheaper our transport system, our politicians/councillors with “pea” brains decide otherwise. Somebody has got to drum into their thick skulls that by building more roads, you’re creating more traffic and polluting the the environment. ENOF SAID!!

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  3. I just feel like crying. I also feel guilty. Why didn’t I step on-board with this campaign while I had the chance? I hope at the very least the soils can be transferred to another site (my allotment?) 🙂
    Is there ANY chance we can turn this decision around????? (That will actually be heard by the powers that be?)

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  4. “The ‘rapid transit’ bus route is intended to provide faster links between Bristol’s train stations”

    Wouldn’t it be easier for people to get a train between Bristol’s train stations…?

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  5. Elizabeth, the Metrobus proposals were a big part of the successful Green Capital bid and the earlier unsuccessful bids in previous years. The Metrobus plans were as cited by the Green Capital jury as one of the main reasons we were awarded Green Capital status for 2015.

    Metrobus is not a road building scheme, it runs mostly on existing roads. Can you explain how getting people out of cars and onto public transport will “increase pollution”?

    The council and Stapleton allotments did a survey which showed the land being used by Metrobus contains Grade 3a soil. The survey also showed that the only Grade 1 soil is under the bits of the site not affected by the Metrobus plans. Nobody is losing any allotments at the site, the allotment holders that are affected are being moved to bigger plots.

    You also refer to the Arnolfini bridge, that hasn’t been part of Metrobus since the Mayor reviewed the scheme after taking office in 2012.

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    • The South Bristol Link is a road, the road around Stoke Gifford is a road. The City Centre could have (and should have) been done as proposed anyway – it didn’t need MetroBust to do that work. The two bus lanes shown in one of the slides shown at the planing committee meeting will join nicely into Anchor Road, and provide a near-continuous bus lane via Hotwell Road and Humpty Dumpty Way to Long Ashton P&R, plus £47 million change. P&R users, and there will be far fewer of them when the railway to Portishead reopens, will be able to get to work more quickly than by going via Temple Meads – most current users do not go to Temple Meads.

      If it isn’t a road building scheme, then why is something that will provide a bus service of a lesser frequency and capacity than the existing showcase routes costing upwards of £200 million?

      And I know the Mayor’s review very sensibly moved it away from the Arnolfini and Prince Street bridge, so making it slightly less awful. I know also that the Mayor, at an election meeting, described Me

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    • The South Bristol Link is a road, the road around Stoke Gifford is a road. The City Centre could have (and should have) been done as proposed anyway – it didn’t need MetroBust to do that work. The two bus lanes shown in one of the slides shown at the planning committee meeting will join nicely into Anchor Road, and provide a near-continuous bus lane via Hotwell Road and Humpty Dumpty Way to Long Ashton P&R, plus £47 million change. Most P&R users, and there will be far fewer of them when the railway to Portishead reopens, will be able to get to work more quickly than by going via Temple Meads – most current users do not go to Temple Meads. If the existing bus were retained, MetroBust would be seen to be an even more expensive white heffalump than it already is.

      If it isn’t a road building scheme, then why is something that will provide a bus service of a lesser frequency and capacity than the existing showcase routes costing upwards of £200 million?

      And I know the Mayor’s review very sensibly moved it away from the Arnolfini and Prince Street bridge, so making it very slightly less awful. I know also that the Mayor, at a pre-election meeting, described MetroBust, then known as Bust Rabid Transit, as a “scheme chasing funding, rather than a scheme worthy of funding”, not “a mainstay of my bid for Green Capital status”. I know, because I was there, and it got the first cheer of the night. Shame he couldn’t stick to his guns.

      As for integrating bus and rail, that could be done with augmentation and improvement of existing bus services, including retention of the number 20, plus, crucially, smart ticketing. It seems these aspects have been deliberately held back to make MetroBust look like a good idea, and saviour of the city. Other cities have free shuttles from rail stations to employment areas. We have the 8/9 bus, 10 per hour at extra cost, to cope with passengers from two London trains per hour, plus all the others.

      The Emperor is wearing his new clothes, and we can all see his winkie.

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  6. Perhaps Nick you can explain why it is that such a staggeringly costly scheme will benefit so few people and will at best, at peak travel periods, reduce their travelling time merely by minutes? Does this warrant such excessive costs? Where/how exactly will it succeed in getting people out of their cars and onto buses? You argue that this scheme won Bristol the Green capital award 2015 yet why is it that the proposal pays scant attention to introducing new cycle paths? – and already has had to be revised to at least pay marginal consideration… Plans that I have seen clearly indicate that there WILL indeed be new roads and one right in the heart of Bristol’s centre, as well as road widenings. Sorry but to my mind this can only mean more traffic. Can you please explain why there has been no proper consultation with the people of Bristol – who clearly do not want this scheme which has not been properly thought out or developed?

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    • The 100million is spread over 2 councils and spans from Hengrove in the South to Cribbs Causeway & Emersons in the North, so it is a very long and large scheme. If this was to be a rail scheme, you would be looking at 20 times the costs over that length.
      The consultation comments are also very boring and repetitive, the scheme has been to consultation in the Begbrook, City Centre, South Bristol, South Glos areas, letter drops, internet, internal council to all departments, did you want someone to knock on every door and go through it with them?

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    • If you look in the Metrobus plans there’s plenty of provision for cyclists and pedestrians. The biggest example is the redesign of the city centre where significant space is being taken from cars and for cyclists and pedestrians, giving them more space and more priority. From what I can gather, these changes to the centre are part of the Mayor’s plan to discourage car drivers from using the city centre which will mean it’s no longer dominated by traffic, making it a much more pleasant environment for everyone.

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  7. For the record – Some grade 1 land will DEFINITELY be affected by the proposal, particularly where the Construction compound will be built. You cannot move soil, – it does not work like that, soil takes its characteristics from the rock below it as well as other factors nor can you remedy it after compaction by scraping at the application states. The soil at the allotments as with Feed Bristol is a mixture of grade 1-3. Do you know this site, Mr Pea? We do as growers. Allotment holders are being offered site which have a lower grade of soil , which they should not do by law.

    The whole scheme is unjustified and unnecessary- THAT IS THE MAIN POINT, IMPROVEMENTS IN THE TRANSPORT SYSTEM CAN BE SO MUCH MORE HOLISTIC, THOUGHTFUL AND INTELLIGENT AND COST A GREAT DEAL LESS! New roads will indeed be built and also changes to existing roads ( look at the plans), all of which will have a negative impact in the 2 years of construction and beyond.

    The proposed M32 bridge and road site is green belt, conservation area, a wildlife corridor, part of Bristol’s Strategic green Network, protected heritage site and prime food growing land – as well home to Bristol’s most successful food growing project Feed Bristol, Bristol’s only CSA, Sims Hill, and long-standing, much loved Stapleton allotments. The road will save the route 3.5 minutes! Yes that’s right 3.5 minutes!

    The overall scheme DOES NOT OFFER BRISTOL ANY KIND OF SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT SCHEME. It has very low passenger projections – most poached from existing bus routes. Tt has been predicted by transport groups that by merely tweaking other bus routes and adding some new ones the SAME IMPACT easily (minus this costly and long term damage) could be reached. The rhetoric of economic growth is hollow and aged and is and in a paradigm which does not relate to the many challenges this world faces – instead it just exasperates them! There is nothing sustainable or green about this scheme – which also damages 28 other green spaces over Bristol.(Had the green capital seen the proposed plans?) The word SUSTAINABLE is yet again used and abused, please don’t be fooled. Join us in SOILIDARITY!

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  8. I beg to differ. As I posted earlier, if you’ve taken the time to read the planning documents like I have you’ll see the council and Stapleton allotments did a survey which showed the land being used by Metrobus contains Grade 3a soil. The survey showed what Grade 1 soil is there is under the bits of the site not affected by the Metrobus plans.

    Those transport groups you talk about, who are they? What expertise do they have and where can I read about their ideas? Bristol’s traffic problems are huge, it is laughable to think we’ll solve them by merely tweaking existing bus routes.

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  9. “Bristol’s traffic problems are huge” – and very unlikely to be solved by the funding-bid-driven nonsense that is Metrobust. The AVTM section alone is an utter joke – over £50 million (!!!) to re-locate the existing P&R service off Hotwell Road & down a woefully-convoluted-and-not-very-guided-at-all route along Cumberland Road (it is almost certain that the engineering & bridgeworks that will be required along the New Cut have not been properly budgeted for), thereby diverting P&R commuters AWAY from the very popular Anchor Road and Centre stops. The consultant’s OWN figures demonstrate negligible improvements in peak-uptake & journey time, even as central bus services are being squeezed. It is utterly scandalous that public money is being squandered in this fashion, not least given the much cheaper (bus priority) changes that could be made to the arterial Hotwell Road. Current 903 users are baffled by the plans – to say nothing of the detrimental effect upon the area/environs of Ashton Avenue Bridge/Sylvia Crowe Park/Butterfly Junction, a major non-vehicular route into the city. PR dribble about how Metrobust will “improve” this stretch of the Festival Way simply insults the local residents, pedestrians and cyclists who use it, day in, day out. We will now be in close proximity to a busy bus lane! I have nothing against buses, but this is truly a dreadful scheme: the SBL will add to overall traffic, valued green & vehicle-free space is being annexed and Bristol will be left with a majority liability for costs. It has not been properly consulted upon – and, IMO, the manner in which it has been pushed thru planning (not least the last BCC meeting) has been an abuse of due process.

    In short, it’s a disaster. A shoddy, despicable disaster.

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  10. Detrimental effect upon the area/environs of Ashton Avenue Bridge and Sylvia Crowe Park? The bridge is full of rust and looks like it is about to collapse into the New Cut!

    And a bus every six minutes at peak times and one every quarter of an hour during the rest of the day does not mean busy bus lanes!

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  11. The state of the (Grade II listed & sadly-neglected) bridge is not an a priori argument for the choice of bus-lane, whatever the claims of Metrobust’s PR dept. I have no problem with renovation of the bridge – as a local resident and daily cycle commuter, I would dearly love to see it restored… but its physical condition is not a reason for re-locating buses off Hotwell Road.

    And, yes, given that BRT2 is being routed through what is now vehicle-free space (and yes, I am familiar with its history – it was a top-tier road bridge, as well as carrying rail), it will have a huge effect upon the feel of the area. A bus every six minutes (not to mention the accompanying infrastructure) will be a significant intrusion upon what is – currently – a reasonably peaceful & pleasant through-fare. All for the sake of a scheme that achieves minimal benefit, at maximum cost… £50 million for a pitifully-short stretch of guided busway, replacing a perfectly adequate P&R service (and if Metrobust are so concerned about future traffic volume on the existing route, one might ask why they are so keen to build the SBL road, thereby potentially increasing it…!).

    The whole thing is ludicrous.

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  12. This is interesting from Bristol Green Party.

    “It is ironic that a scheme that is designed to improve public transport can so negatively impact on so many aspects of the city that it can turn natural supporters into people who are at best extremely disappointed and at worst totally opposed to it.

    The poor tactical implementation of strategic game changer has turned metro bus from an opportunity into a threat. For example, we support the concept of a north-south route across the city due to the many benefits of having a fast bus route up the M32. Therefore, it is particularly frustrating that the current proposal has so many significant flaws in it
    …read more…”

    http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/blog/bristol-green-party-statement-to-committee-on-metrobus

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  13. I received this summary back in September about Bristol Green Capital’s position. It not an official statement from Bristol Green Capital Partnership but from an informed source:

    “The Green Capital bid document for 2015 (produced by Bristol City Council – steered by Bristol Green Capital Partnership amongst others) included an outline investment plan for transport which focused on reducing air pollution, reducing transport carbon, shortening journey times, reducing reliance on cars etc… which specifically made reference to Metrobus (then BRT) as addressing these issues, but did not mention the loss of agricultural land. The European Green Capital judges also specifically stated they liked the transport investment plan in their judgment on the bid, and said it contributed to Bristol winning.

    So from that point of view, Travelwest and Mr Peas are correct.

    However, the Partnership did formally object to planning application at the hearing: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/committee/2014/re/re9/0827_4-1_6pm.pdf, along with dozens of Partnership members (including Sustrans) mostly on the basis of the loss of agricultural land.

    Both statements are, in their way, correct. The Bristol Green Capital Partnership undoubtedly supported the bid and the overall Metrobus scheme included within it. However, it also objects to the loss of agricultural land that has become a part of the way Metrobus is being implemented.”

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