145 Oxford Street, BRISTOL, BS3 4RH
Phone 0117 9041043 Mobile: 07741 089 529 E-mail: stephenbs3 @ yahoo.co.uk
15 August 2005 Ref: Planning_50812
David Bishop, Director of PTSD
Steve Perry, City Planner
Rowan Torkildsen, Strategic and City-wide Policy
c.f.i. Councillor Dennis Brown,
Executive Member, Transport and Development Control
It is accepted that Bristol has problems with traffic congestion and air pollution. Transport is or recently was stated as being the City Council's second to top priority.
It is clear from the draft JLTP and other sources that bus transport is key to any solution. Attention has been devoted to "showcase" bus routes. But studies have shown that improving public transport interchange facilities can be far more cost effective than increasing the speed of the vehicles.
Inconvenient, unreliable interchange facilities are a major disincentive to bus travel. Recently, while active in the Sustainable Transport theme group of the recent Best Value Review of Integrated Transport I did a study of "The Centre" as a Transport Hub. It is in the papers supporting the BV Report and is on my blog. It shows The Centre to be absolutely atrocious as a public transport interchange. The so-called Bus Station is also grossly inadequate as such - it is a base for a mere handful of local or sub-regional services.
Bristol urgently needs a bus transport interchange, and for integration it should be next to the railway station.
Anyone setting out to plan facilities for Bristol would have seen that we needed a passenger transport interchange or hub of the sort normal in continental Europe and as is being planned and implemented in many British cities. This would be a place where most local and sub-regional buses would pass or terminate. It would be near the railway station or be served by a frequent shuttle (or moving walkway?) and if necessary (as in Bristol) there would be a shuttle to the central shopping and business districts.
This is not rocket science. At the recent architectural conference at @Bristol I asked each of the visiting towns' representatives about such a transport hub and they all either had one or were implementing one. For example in Southampton where the geography and the local politics are similar to Bristol's, they are building a transport hub next to the railway station and providing shuttle buses to the centre.
I am appalled by the failure of Bristol's planning process to appreciate this need. I studied past editions of the local plans and saw no new material about bus facilities. There was only repeated mention of the Marlborough Street site which anyone could see is not well located as a hub and which is far too small, with no room for expansion.
What troubles me deeply is the apparent lack in this city of effective let alone visionary Planning. We have the staff and the job titles and the bureacratic process of the Local Plan or the LDF but where is the PLANNING? It seem clear that all we have is "Development Control" which is little more than a mechanism for responding to commercial developers' proposals.
All with whom I have spoken about the need for a Hub located near the station agree it is a good idea. But amongst officers and councillors there is an air of helplessness. Why should this be? Our problem with First Bus is no different to that of other towns.
We need a City Planner, an Urban Design person, a Strategic and City-wide Policy maker, a brave politician, SOMEONE, to do what so clearly needs doing and what is normal everywhere else besides Bristol. Do we want to be for ever in the lowest category in so many measures of urban quality?
Soon all the land around the railway station will be lost to yuppy flats. In that case the bus hub will need to be built under or over the station. So if you were to act now you would save a lot of money, as well as encouraging modal shift, and enhancing the quality of life in our city.
A description of the facility can be found on my blog, written as it were after it was built.
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