Public asked for views on £9bn future transport plans – and how to pay for them

March 05 2019
Do you want an underground, a Metrobus, more trains or cycling?

THE TERM “public consultation” usually conjures up thoughts of baffling documents and tedious questionnaires. But someone clever at the West of England Combined Authority has turned giving feedback on the region’s transport plans into something of a game.

Pictured: The kind of driverless train that could be used on a Bristol underground – if it ever gets built

By Amanda Cameron

Local Democracy Reporter*

THE TERM “public consultation” usually conjures up thoughts of baffling documents and tedious questionnaires. But someone clever at the West of England Combined Authority has turned giving feedback on the region’s transport plans into something of a game.
As keen as mustard on an underground train or tram system? Spend five points.
Marginally interested in getting an expanded Metrobus network? Spend one or two points.
Reasonably happy to pay more council tax to foot the bill? Earn three points.
Weca has opened its consultation on major plans to transform transport in the region by 2036.
Released in November, the draft wish-list of projects include changes to existing road, rail and bus networks as well as big-ticket schemes such as an underground rail system.
But delivering all the proposed schemes would cost an estimated £8.9billion, so the public is being asked to express their preference not only for individual projects but also for various ways of funding them.
Each person is given 20 points to “spend” choosing their priorities on the Travelwest website:

https://travelwest.info/projects/joint-local-transport-plan

Using the “transport priority simulator”, you can spend up to five points each on 16 transport measures.
And you get a chance to earn extra points by assigning a priority score of between zero and five to each of four possible funding options.
The transport measures include:

a mass transit network (underground or at street level)
expansion of the Metrobus network
new and improved rail stations and increased frequency and capacity of rail services
a ring of Park & Ride sites serving the main urban areas
improvements to existing roads
new and/or improved motorway junctions
a comprehensive and safe network so active travel is the preferred choice for shorter trips
using technology to reduce the need to travel
using technology to enable seamless journeys
the reallocation if highway space to public transport, walking and cycling, where appropriate
mechanisms such as charging and parking restrictions to reduce dependency on private car use in urban areas
more efficient freight movements
restrict the most polluting vehicles from areas of poor air quality
promote and expand the use of electric vehicles
improve road safety through a variety of measures.

The funding options are:

road pricing, eg, a congestion charge for specific areas
a workplace parking levy
council tax rate increase
business rates increase.

There is also a questionnaire which, among other things, gives people the chance to comment on the reliability and value-for-money of existing bus services.
Led by Weca, the draft Joint Local Transport Plan 2019-2036 involves the local authorities in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, and Bath and North East Somerset.
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 consultation opened on February 6 and closes March 20.

* The Local Democracy Reporter scheme is funded by the BBC out of the TV licence. It pays for 150 reporters around the country to cover some of the issues that newspapers often do not have the staff for any  more – mainly council issues but also involving other public bodies including the police and schools. South Bristol Voice is a member of the scheme, which means we have the right to use the stories produced by the three Local Democracy Reporters in Bristol. We aren’t able to influence which stories are chosen or how they are written. The  Local Democracy Reporters work at the offices of Bristol Live (publisher of the Bristol Post) and are managed by Bristol Live.