Monday, 10 November 2008

Barmy BRT

Our old friends the West of England Partnership (Bristol City Council and the three other local councils in what used to be Avon) have launched their proposals for the first of a network of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes in Bristol, running from Ashton Vale to Emerson's Green, only they're leaving a veil over the Temple Meads to Emerson's Green section for the very good reason that they still want to use the route of the popular Bristol & Bath Railway Path, despite the public outcry when this emerged at the beginning of this year.

So the current consultation is for Ashton Vale to Temple Meads, although from Prince Street Bridge onwards to Temple Meads the BRT bendy-buses will run as normal buses already do, using bus lanes and ordinary roads, so it's really the Ashton Vale to Prince Street Bridge section that is new, although for the most part it follows disused or little used railway trackbed, with only the link from Winterstoke road to the Ashton P&R site being a new transport corridor.

To help us visualise how wonderful the brave new world of BRT is going to be the West of England Partnership have produced a computer simulation (below) to show sleek tram-like bendy-buses gliding along pristine tracks and improbably wide streets, all remarkably clear of any other traffic other than a generous sprinkling of cyclists. Of course we're all expected to be duly impressed, especially at how cyclists will benefit from the BRT scheme.

But some cyclists will insist on looking a gift horse in the mouth and one in particular is remarkably vigilant when it comes to the kind of obscure details that most of us scan over. Step forward Terry, who noticed some strange anomalies along the Cumberland Road. Not only do the BRT buses magically switch from the conventional driving on the left to continental style driving on the right (possibly for sound technical reasons), but so too does the adjacent road traffic!

It seems that no one at the West of England Partnership has the attention for detail of our Terry and they've gone and issued a simulation with cars driving on the right through Bristol. This actually sits well with other 'oversights' in the simulation, like the grossly exaggerated widths of cycle paths and roads running alongside the BRT route and the strange 'ghost' station on Winterstoke Road. Once again we have a public consultation being carried out on the basis of misleading and unreliable information.

Thanks to James Barlow for setting up the You-tube video.


Anonymous said...

look closely at the cumberland road picture and see the two trams taking up not only the bike track, but one lane of the road.
maybe the driving on the right is more like driving on the right then left then right then left in order to dodge oncoming vehicles as the trams glide silently past.

James Barlow said...

Here's a link to an embeddable version of the video at You Tube:

It reminds me of the old PC game A-Train

Forest Pines said...

The bit that's most puzzling me at the moment is: the flyover over the railway line where the railway crosses Ashton Drive.

For one thing: the scheme writers seem to think that the railway crosses Ashton Drive on the level. It doesn't - there's a bridge.

Secondly, there's no room in real life to put a road, busway, whatever you want to call it, between the railway line and the Imperial Tobacco factory that backs onto the railway. You could probably do it without demolishing the factory building itself, but the flyover on that video would be practically touching the building.

Chris Hutt said...

Forest Pines, I think you'll find that the BRT doesn't extend as far out as Ashton Drive. The point where it crosses the railway is Barton Close which is a cul-de-sac (for motor vehicles) off the big roundabout serving the football ground.

It's still quite a squeeze to fit it all through. The simulation actually shows the BRT stop platforms sitting on top of the railway tracks!

You're error is understandable. the information available online is very poor. It would be good to have proper scale drawings to look at (they presumably have them), but it would hardly be a West of England Partnership consultation then, would it.

I can't believe that they can get away with a public consultation on the basis of a crude map and a dodgy simulation, but I don't hear any councillors rattling their cage.

Forest Pines said...

Ah, my mistake - not paying close enough attention to the maps there.

SteveL said...

Long term plans are for the BRT to go down to the airport -which would be progress, if you fly- so it will need a means to get down there, even if it involves back roads.