Notes from Transport Forum Meeting, 1st September 2003.

I was attending the TF for the first time . I had applied as an individual but when I saw that everyone else on the attendance sheet was representing an organisation, and as I was with Graham Davey, I signed as a rep of Bristol South Green Party.

I was impressed by the wide range of Transport System Users attending, including two Pedestrians' groups, cyclists, several public transport users' groups including some championing specific bus or train routes, as well as First Bus Company, Road Haulage Association, etc.

The most impressive (and most frequent!) speaker was David Redgewell from Transport 2000. He was a mine of information both local (e.g. a certain bus route in Chew Magna) and national (e.g. the next day's Transport Select Committee agenda in Parliament). Luckily I was sitting next to him and was able to ask him (and Graham who was on my other side) many questions.

I had come with the main intention of opposing the plan to move all the Royal Mail to lorry and air transport, i.e. cease using rail. However the Chair was strongly of the same opinion as were most speakers. One speaker said the Royal Mail had a right to do what they judged most cost effective to which I replied (pretending I thought the Chairman had invited me to speak when I realised he had meant the chap next but one to me!) that this was so but the wider public had a right to take into account such costs as accidents, pollution, and night time disturbance, none of which would appear on Royal Mail's Balance sheet. This was applauded.

Earlier we were given a presentation by a Transport Consultant on the Broadmead Redevelopment project. Though there is to be good provision for pedestrian and cycle access and for coach passenger access, there were many complaints about local bus users' access.

(I learnt that coach travel to Bristol is significant. This is special coaches (not the scheduled lines which go to Marlborough Street) bringing people from up to 100 miles away. There are often as many as 70 a day.)

Most criticism was directed at the impression the development is car centred. I spoke rather forcibly about the sheer acreage of car park space, not only as a waste of valuable land but as a traffic generator. I said I was shocked by the consultant's glib remark that traffic congestion is a useful brake on car usage. I said that facilities like car parks and new roads do not solve traffic problems but act as traffic generators, and that Bristol was already choking in traffic, even outside the rush hours. What was needed was better public transport facilities. I pointed out that the previous such presentation I had attended (re the bus Station) the consultants had claimed credit for having no parking at all for 340 new residential units, declaring this to be a necessity in a city centre development, yet in this plan there were to be 500 new car parking spaces. David R put the case for better bus provision very forcefully. However the Chairman, Councillor Crispin, said in effect that politically it was an imperative to provide plenty of car parking. If a planning committee opposed it, the developer inevitably won on appeal. The consultant had told us that the 2500 spaces they were to provide was well within established guidelines.

Also earlier there were two items concerning fare collection (one about over-harsh action against fare dodgers, this due to the conductor having insufficient time to collect all the fares, another about the teething difficulties of a new high-tech system). Very complex solutions were proposed. I said that as a newcomer to Bristol I had been amazed and horrified by how slow was the fare collection system on the buses. I said I had timed a bus at the nearby stop on College Green - it had taken 8 minutes picking up. I said that on the continent there was a simple, fast, easily-monitored system in use in most countries, while in Britain and even in one town such as Bristol there is a range of old, slow, incompatible fare collection systems. When would Bristol start to catch up? (Applause!)

Other items to which I did not contribute:

Bristol is in the top 10 of the 149 Local Authorities in Britain with regard to facilities for cyclists.

Concern was expressed that there had been yet another pedestrian injury on Broad Quay (near the junction with Baldwin St). (Co-incidentally, I had met my son, a paramedic, in the way to the Forum, and he had attended it. The victim had two broken ribs.) Cnclr Crispen said this junction was a problem and challenged all of us to come up with a solution.

The Local Transport Plan Annual Progress Report was issued - I obtained a copy.

There is also available a "Bus Strategy Document" which I shall try to obtain.

I shall contact Transport 2000 and consider joining it. (Phone 01749 676 208)

SP, 2/9/03

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