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Bendy Bus Heaven

July 26, 2011

Bristol rapid Transport. BRT. A pet project with more to Brownie points and kudos than sustainable city-wide transport.
The idea of BRT is to speed up public transport through the city. Much like the Showcase bus routes. Did someone say Showcase bus route?
Poor old showcases, afflicted with the same old Bristol problem of car packed streets and illegal parking may save a few minutes on the journey, if you’re lucky. New buses and shelters with information are a bonus.
So having spent X millions on showcase why bother with the bendy-bus BRT? Ah! Well the experts have got their heads together and thought about this. They have determined that if you take the buses off the congested roads and put them on their own dedicated concrete bus lanes you will achieve the nirvana of rapid, reliable, frequent and punctual form of public transport (as the West of England partnership likes to boast). Bingo!
Except the bingo prize has a few minor challenges. Like where do you put a dedicated concrete highway for buses on the already congested Showcase roads?
Ahah!!! The consultants are not overpaid for nothing-by pinning string onto a map they have earmarked the quickest routes off road, which happily coincide with some of the more pleasant public walking and cycle routes. BRT2 spells bad luck for those non car users who enjoy the pleasant walk or cycle across the bridge to the Create centre and down by Cumberland rd. The concrete and rapid bendy bus treatment is to be given to your peaceful off road tranquillity. If you’re really unlucky you may even get injured or killed by the bendy bus, all in the name of progress and saving a few minutes on the journey time you have to understand.
I’ll tell you what I understand:

1. These 60ft monsters of rapid transport will have serious accidents with pedestrians and cyclists-that’s why London has banned them. Painting the road a different colour doesn’t stop people getting flattened on the shared routes through town. Bendy bus heaven!

2. The Ashton Vale route to centre will destroy the heritage of the dockside railway and harbourside. They’ve grudgingly allowed the steamers to run on a Sunday when the articulated buses will have to run on our normal roadspace (not going to be too rapid then is it?). But the ambience of the dockside will be destroyed as old tracks are ripped up for the concrete guided bus lanes. Check the dockside from the sanitised M-shed to Brunels Buttery for the last time, bustling with people enjoying the quiet and pleasant stroll by the waterfront, the historic dockside steamer chuffing by your side. This will be consigned to the history books as the BRT bendy buses hammer every few minutes down the once peaceful ambience. All so that commuters can get from the park and ride to the office quicker.

3. The BRT routes don’t go to Temple Meads. How stupid is that? It drops you off the other side of the traffic rammed Temple Circus roundabout so you conveniently have to run the gauntlet of dual carriageway crossings.

4. There’s a minor detail of a £40million black hole as the Gov. withdraws funding from everything. You can safely double that when they find out the Ashton Swing Bridge needs more than a coat of paint and a bit of welding.

The prospect of Bendy Bus heaven fills me with joy. Am I just not one of the enlightened ones?


Planning application for two way traffic on Ashton Swing Bridge

Two lane bus highway on the Ashton Swing bridge-the latest planning application

  1. July 27, 2011 7:27 am

    Ashton Swing Bridge survey 2008 budgeted £0.8m for painting and £0.4m for welding the holes which they say are still valid. They say its structually strong enough to take the 40ton articulated double deckers although main trusses need some work. Costs DON’T include a new cantilevered path for cyclists and pedestrians.
    The former British Rail Board are still responsible for half of the upkeep of the bridge. BRB could transfer their liability to the council with a one-off payment the 2008 report says. But it urges caution as the other two bridges on Cumberland road already transferred to the council incurred significant higher than expected repair costs.

  2. July 27, 2011 7:47 am

    Also good news bad news.
    Without the proposed repairs the listed bridge will dissolve into rust very soon.
    With the works will be a vital transport link still for pedestrians and cyclists BUT now shared with 60ft articulated buses from the Airport Flyer and Long Ashton park and ride at a significantly higher passage rate of one every 6 minutes. Goodbye pleasant off road cycleway. One must ask why the giant buses can’t go on the perfectly usable modern Cumberland basin bridge system designed for this kind of vehicle instead of stealing the much loved traffic free routes. Bristol-Bath cycleway enthusiasts take note, you’re not safe yet.

  3. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    July 27, 2011 11:01 am

    I think you will find the latest plan is for the bendybus to be single track across the bridge, controlled by a traffic lights system. This will mean that cyclists and pedestrians will continue to use the main structure of the bridge but sharing it with the buses to which you previously refer.

  4. July 27, 2011 9:14 pm

    I’ve updated with the latest image on the applications for BRT2 above.
    I’ll post the full application on a new page to save anyone having to look them all up.
    Difficult to believe but the application definitely shows a two way bus route with pedestrians and cyclists pushed onto a cantilevered side extension. Application here:
    11/02494/LA – Alterations to Ashton Bridge

  5. July 29, 2011 5:20 pm

    Here’s a good one from the cabinet report on 21st July:

    Ashton Vale to Temple Meads and Bristol City Centre Rapid Transit Equality Impact Assessment – Part One – Screening

    1. Identify the aims of the policy, project, service, contract or strategy and how it is implemented

    1.4 Who are the main beneficiaries? Whose needs is it designed to meet?

    General public, public transport users and pedestrians / cyclists

    Er..So how does chopping the flagship Festival Way cycle path in two with bendy buses every minute benefit cyclists?

    I’d like a figure on how many deaths and injuries are acceptable till the bendy buses are consigned to the already lethal main roads instead of our cycleways.

  6. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    July 31, 2011 7:15 pm

    Hi Sacredspring.
    Nothing surprises me with this farce, but, at the BRT meeting of the NPN, 18th July, they said that to save money the external walkway/cycleway would no longer be built and the buses would be single track. There were concerns raised about the proximity of one to the other but evidently there was ample space. Thats all I know, but I was there.

  7. August 1, 2011 8:30 pm

    Yes you’re right Paul -money trouble already. But the planning applications haven’t been withdrawn yet.

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