Draft letter to Bristol Evening Post, written 16/2/07

Showcase Bus Routes Over-engineered?

It's not often I find myself in sympathy with estate agents or commercial developers but I consider Andrew Hardwick, in saying "Bus Plans Won't Work" may have a point. Of course, buses are an essential part of our transport system, for the travellers' benefit and to help reduce pollution and climate change. But the "Showcase Bus Routes" programme seems to me an expensive, grossly over-engineered, and very slow solution. After all, creating a bus lane needs little more than a wide white line painted down the road. The Council's Legal Services (who seem always to be too busy when asked to do what the voters want) need to bring in parking restrictions, but these are already in place on most bus routes. Then so-called Parking Services and the Police, both of whom are supposed to be under public control, need to enforce them. Again, they always claim either "It's not my job" or "Too busy". Would sorting them out really cost less than the cost of congestion and pollution? Then there is the satellite GPS real time arrival indicator system. If the buses kept to their schedules, and the schedules were on display, there would be no need for this un-necessary engineers' toy. Again, why the monstrous works in Old Market? Why put the bus stops in the middle of the road? The only reason seems to be that the road is wide and the engineers like building things rather than planting trees, or permitting markets. I was an engineer of sorts before retiring, and we loved it when our clients gave us nice juicy difficult problems to solve. It was fun and kept us in well-paid work.

Our Councillors should have the guts to say no. It's too easy for them to agree an engineering solution that will take years to implement. And looking around Bristol, where are the really useful facilities? (Remember, they wanted to fill in the harbour!) Councillors should insist that the legal officers, the parking services, the police and above all the engineers do what the public want not what they deem best. If they want an engineering solution why not build us a decent bus station at Temple Meads?

Stephen Petter

Bristol South Green Party.

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