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Bristol BRT and the Sinclair C5

August 30, 2011

I was lucky enough to test drive Clive Sinclair’s answer to public transport problems back in 1985. Not being ready for an early death, I stuck to the hotel’s ballroom and corridors, which is when one of its many achilles heels came to light. There was no reverse gear. So in a tight spot where the er poor turning circle left you jammed in, you had to clamber out and pick the thing up to physically lift it round to point in the right direction!
Poor Sir Clive disappeared into obscurity along with his crazy 3-wheeler. Shame for a man who perfected industrial design with his calculators -but at least the project worthily kept a few redundant welsh miners in a job in an old vacuum cleaner factory.

Getting back to the BRT rapid transport, when you look in detail at the wonderful guided bendy buses that lib-dem Tim Kent likes to eulogize over you start to get to the truth that their are a few drawbacks. In fact funnily enough they don’t drawback, just like the ill-fated C5. They can’t go backwards on the guided concrete busways.
Which means if they breakdown, which they will, a specialist breakdown wagon has to pull them out of the way, forwards. Meanwhile the rapid bus concrete highway is at a standstill for god knows how long.

Also-if there’s an obstruction then the system grinds to a halt. The bendy buses can’t steer round the thing like they would on a normal road.

Here’s a few more issues:
1. The extra long bendy buses have to have specially trained drivers.
2. Despite this they still squash 2-3 times as many pedestrians and cyclists as a normal bus.
3. If it snows forget it-normal snow ploughs don’t do bendy bus concrete runways.
4. Rolling stock becomes redundant and manufacturers don’t build any more bendies-redundant guided bus route result. Already an issue with Worst bus saying they wont use bendies.
5. The Cambridge BRT cost many times more than the original estimate and was years over launch date.
6. The Ashton Vale BRT2 route to centre will ruin a quiet pedestrian and cyclist route that is safely used by thousands of people over the old swing bridge. It will also disastrously alter the historic ambience of the harbourside and steam railway vital to tourism in the city.
7. There’s loads more.

The Bristol BRT bendy bus route is destined to go the same way as the C5, I hope, before it’s launched.
Bristol doesn’t need this expensive, faulty system that is shunned by most cities in the world.

  1. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    August 31, 2011 4:18 pm

    BRT2. Ashton Vale to Town with buses from P and R every eight mins. averaging 7 per hour. The Airport Flyer runs every ten mins. 6 per hour. The country route buses from North Somerset approx. 5 per hour. Total 18 buses per hour on one track that has a limited ability to clear itself. Conclusion. Leave in plenty of time for any appointment.

  2. Richard Lane permalink
    September 6, 2011 12:16 am

    Got to say I think they are a crap idea. We’ve got train track covering a major part of Bristol and no political will to put it into proper use.
    The stupid thing is, the council are paying a subsidy to First group to run a bus from the park and ride on the portway into town. They hold up the traffic to do so, then First group run a train into town through the same park and ride site but don’t pick up any passengers there. I believe something like 60% of the working population of WSM travel to Bristol for employment. why isn’t there a park and ride at Portishead utilising the trainline? Piss up in a brewery.
    The existing track at the industrial museum (sorry M shed), could be extended along the waterfront, along Redcliffe way and into TM joining up with No 1 platform.

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