The downside to this popularity is that Bristol is often voted one of the UK’s worst cities for traffic congestion, air pollution and lack of adequate public transport. With an increasing population comes an increase in car use and Bristol’s roads are close to capacity. A single incident on one part of the road network can cause gridlock everywhere else.
According to Tom Tom’s Travel Index, car journeys in Bristol take 31% longer during peak time than they do in free-flowing traffic. That’s an average 36 minutes each day, or 138 hours/17 working days each year.
The average speed during peak time according to the Joint Local Transport Plan is just 16mph with 23% of the average journey spent stationary.
Simply put, there are too many cars in Bristol for the road space available. We can’t continually increase the road space and as the population increases, the problem of traffic congestion is set to become worse. Much worse! The answer to this problem is just as simple. If all car users switched to an alternative form of transport one day a week, the problem of traffic congestion would simply disappear.
To achieve this there has to be an affordable, convenient, quick and reliable alternative. This is where MetroBus comes in to the equation. Launching in the autumn of this year, its initial routes will provide a backbone to which further routes and extensions can be added.
So what is MetroBus?
Imagine you had a luxurious, top of the range urban vehicle with all the extras. Now imagine you have your own personal road lane that you and only you could drive in. Now imagine that that every time you approached a traffic light they magically turned green. Now imagine your vehicle is chauffer driven and you’re free to spend the journey surfing the web on the vehicle’s wi-fi. Finally, let’s imagine that on top of all that you never have to search for a parking space again. It may sound too good to be true, but that essentially is MetroBus.
The two most obvious advantages are more time to spend with friends and family and more disposable income at the end of the month.
By using its own lanes and having priority at traffic lights, MetroBus will speed past stationary traffic and significantly cut down journey times on longer journeys.
For example, the journey from Bedminster to UWE currently will take you around 46 minutes during morning peak. MetroBus is forecast to do the journey in just 29 minutes. That’s an extra 15 minutes in bed every morning and an extra 15 minutes to unwind at home at the end of a busy day.
According to the 2011 census, 64% of us use our car to commute.
Of those journeys, 48% of them are less than a half hour walk or a 10 minute cycle ride. If everyone making these short journeys cycled or walked twice a week then not only would traffic congestion disappear but, obesity levels throughout the city would fall, fitness levels throughout the city would increase and air quality would improve significantly
So as part of building the MetroBus infrastructure, we are improving public spaces and making it easier and more enjoyable to walk and cycle. One of the major reasons that people give for not cycling to work is their belief that cycling is not safe. To help overcome this we are creating over 7 kilometres of shared pedestrian/cycle paths that link in with the existing cycle network. We are also installing 282 cycle stands at our 92 MetroBus stops to encourage commuters to get to work using a cycle/MetroBus combo.
People that walk or cycle to work are generally a lot happier than those that don’t. The Travel to Work Survey 2016 asked commuters if they were satisfied with their journey to work. Only 55% of car users said yes compared to 76% of cyclists and 82% of pedestrians.
We appreciate that for a lot of commuters, cycling, walking and the MetroBus are not an option. However, if a small percentage of people changed their commuting habits then the roads would be less congested for those who have no other choice but to use them.
Finally, parking in Bristol can be expensive. With the advent of Residential Parking Zones there are fewer on-street parking spaces for commuters and an increasing demand for public car parks. Most public car parks charge around £10 a day with some charging considerably more. Add to this another £20 to cover fuel and it’s conceivable that using the car to get to work could cost around £70 each week. As MetroBus tickets will not cost any more than background bus services, a weekly pass should be available for under £20. That’s a possible saving of £50 per week or £2400 each year. That’s a free foreign holiday every year courtesy of MetroBus