One of the biggest obstacles to future growth is the high level of congestion on the city’s roads and needs to be addressed. Business has told the West of England, “If the schemes do not go ahead there will be real limitations on business ability to grow, as poor transport infrastructure is a significant restraint on growth” and, “The area needs a public transport network that is part of daily life as it is in London that allows people to use public transport as a default choice.”
If the West of England is going to build on its successes and prosper in the future then congestion has to be reduced to enable business to function properly.
Therefore, the councils of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset are working closely together and have produced a series of plans to resolve the issue. MetroBus is a major part of those plans.
Research locally has shown that for every £1 we invest on improving transport, the West of England stands to gain £3.60 to the local economy. The MetroBus network alone is forecast to increase the local economy by £418million. It will do this by: helping to create jobs; connecting people with jobs and opportunities; connecting areas of growth with the national road network; enabling workers to reliably get to work on time and improving deliveries to and from businesses.
MetroBus has been designed to link local people with key areas of employment and education. It will connect the University of the West of England and employment hubs such as: Aztec West, the Bristol and Bath Science Park and Cribbs Causeway with residential areas including: Bradley Stoke, Stoke Gifford, Emersons Green, Bedminster, Knowle West and Hengrove.
Creating a reliable link between where people live and their places of employment boosts the confidence of employers and in turn results in greater investment leading to more jobs. This is due in part, to the fact that a reliable form of commuting cuts down the amount of lateness due to traffic/public transport. A member of staff who is habitually late for work by 10 minutes each day can cost their employer the equivalent of 40 hours each year.
MetroBus will increase commuter reliability in a number of ways. The 47% of employees who don’t use a car to commute to work will have access to a quick, reliable and affordable mode of transport as well as improved cycling and pedestrian facilities. By creating a credible alternative, many commuters will ‘give MetroBus a go’ leading to less commuter traffic. Dedicated lanes for buses and improving the flow of traffic through junctions and roundabouts will reduce all commuter journey times.
In early January the new South Bristol Link opened connecting major arterial routes into Bristol from Weston super Mare, Wells and Bristol Airport. This new road, delivered under the MetroBus scheme has connected local businesses directly to the national road network for the first time, and in doing so is set to unlock 2,500 jobs in south Bristol by 2030.
Businesses need an efficient and reliable road network that not only connects them to their work force, but allows them to easily distribute their goods and services around the city and further afield.
In recent years there has been a major shift in consumer trends that has led to an increased demand on the city’s road network. Examples of this would be:
- Home shopping and mail order which has proved so popular that van use in the UK has increased by over 17% during the last four years
- Hot food delivery services have led to an increase in cycle and motorcycle couriers;
- Web based taxi operations that have seen an increase in private individuals using their cars for private hire.
To counter this extra demand and to allow business to prosper, MetroBus is delivering a number of initiatives to help create a better, free-flowing road network.
- Reducing the number of cars on the road by offering a quick, reliable and affordable alternative.
- Creating new bus lanes alongside existing carriageways and in doing so increase capacity by removing all buses, taxis and motorcycles.
- Building strategic roads like the Stoke Gifford Transport Link and South Bristol Link to divert through traffic away from highly congested urban areas.
- Creating new cycle paths and remodelling public spaces to make it easier and safer to walk and cycle around the city.
- Remodelling road junctions and roundabouts to speed the through flow of traffic.