Millions more bus journeys in Bristol
BUS travel in Bristol is booming, as a passenger campaign calling for public control of services gathers pace.
The latest figures from the Department for Transport show that passengers took 2,398,600 more bus journeys in Bristol in the space of a year.
In the year to last March there were 42.28 million passenger journeys on buses in Bristol, 6% more than in the previous 12 months.
The figure bucks a national trend: across England, there were 85 million fewer passenger journeys over the same time period, with journeys were also down in neighbouring South Gloucestershire. Since figures were first recorded for the DfT in 2009-10, the number of passenger journeys in Bristol has increased by 51%.
The average Bristol resident took 92 bus journeys in the local authority area in 2017-18, up from 88 the previous year – and the figures were compiled before the launch of Metrobus services, which were expected to add to overall passenger numbers.
A petition launched calling on Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees and Metro Mayor Tim Bowles to work together towards a franchising system, regulating the city’s services, has attracted 2,700 signatures.
The petition, which can be found at the change.org website at bit.ly/2GFwMnO, was launched by passenger Max Langer, who said: “Transport in Bristol is in chaos. Car usage has been on the rise for years, resulting in greater congestion and pollution. In the face of this, our city desperately needs improved public transport.
“However, our current system relies on private companies running bus routes with very little oversight from the council. Private firms can change routes, amend timetables or even scrap services with short notice and without consultation with the council or residents. This allows large bus companies to focus on making huge profits without a care for the local communities that rely on their services. This is not good enough and we must demand better.”
The petition calls on the West of England Combined Authority, run by Mr Bowles, to use powers devolved under the Bus Services Act to decide on the area’s bus routes, timetables and operators.
But councillors have expressed concerns over Weca’s current spending on public transport, with demands to see a “paper trail” of taxpayers’ money amid concerns it could “disappear into a black hole”.
Weca’s audit committee heard transport campaigners who tried to track where funding ends up at its three unitary authorities — Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils — but had drawn a blank.
David Redgewell, of Bus Users UK and South West Transport Network, told members that the combined authority was failing in its duty to be accountable to the public and should be more transparent.
Have your say on transport
PEOPLE are being asked to have their say on the future of transport and travel in Bristol and the surrounding area.
The West of England Combined Authority, which is in overall charge of planning the region’s roads and public transport, is holding a consultation until March 20 and inviting people to have their say.
Residents are being asked to tell the authority, which has overall responsibility for the region’s transport provision, where they think it should be investing between now and 2036.
There is an online survey asking people to allocate ‘points’ to the areas they think Weca should prioritise, including a mass transit network, expansion of Metrobus, new and improved railway stations, road and motorway improvements, new charges and more park and ride sites.
The authority is also organising a regional transport forum on Tuesday March 5, at Keynsham Civic Centre, with members of the public invited to attend.
Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said: “This is an ambitious plan to keep people moving and tackle congestion, whilst supporting economic growth.
“It considers a wide range of options to support sustainable travel including rail, bus, cycling, walking, mass and rapid transit and electric vehicles.”
The survey can be accessed online at
bit.ly/2tomtMi. Anyone without internet access can contact Weca on 0117 428 6210 for more information.