By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
BRISTOL City Council’s flagship Ashton Vale to Temple Meads bendy bus route will not actually stop at the station, it has emerged.
The £50 million scheme is one of three rapid transit routes the council is finalising, ahead of submitting funding bids to government in September.
The idea is that the three routes will make life much easier for people who want to get from one end of the city to another.
It is also supposed to be part of an integrated approach to transport, so buses, rail and rapid transit all work seamlessly together.
The problem is that the latest version of the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads route doesn’t stop at Temple Meads because there isn’t enough money to pay for a stop there.
That means people arriving into Bristol by train won’t just be able to just jump on the bendy bus or vice versa.
Instead the stop for the Temple Meads area is actually outside the KPMG building in Temple Street, the other side of the Temple Circus roundabout.
So anyone who wants to get from the bendy bus to catch a train has at least a five-minute walk across one of the busiest roundabouts in Bristol and several sets of traffic lights.
The council is hoping to have the problem resolved by the time the bendybus scheme opens in 2015, assuming it gets funding.
Transport officers hope that if the Plot 6 site that runs alongside the station is developed into a transport interchange the final stop can be moved there and the situation solved.
But at this stage that is far from guaranteed.
The revelation came at a meeting of the council’s transport scrutiny commission.
Councillors were not impressed with the news.
Councillor Christian Martin (Lib Dem, Clifton East) said: “It will frustrate commuters and residents in Bristol completely that we spend all this money on the scheme that does not get them to their destination of choice, the gateway to the city.
“Presumably BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) will increase the number of people using the service.
“That means there will be an increased number of pedestrians, so what will be done to increase safety?”
Councillor Trevor Blythe (Lib Dem, Clifton) said: “Ryanair doesn’t fly you ‘somewhere near’ where you want to go, but rapid transit will take you ‘somewhere near’ Temple Meads.
“I really think if we can’t get rapid transit close to Temple Meads maybe we could find a way of getting people there without crossing six junctions.”
Council officers said they did not believe safety risks would be any greater than currently on the roads around Temple Meads.
They said the main issue was funding, but also not knowing what would happen to Plot 6 which is currently used a car park behind the building known as Brunel’s Old Station.
Group manager for transport operations Bob Fowler said: “Once we have got a development plan for Plot 6 and a commitment that funds will be available we can quite quickly change the transport infrastructure of that area. We could do that tomorrow if we had the money and the permission.”
Other concerns were raised about the BRT project at the meeting.
Councillor Tess Green (Green Party, Southville) said: “I’m very concerned about overspend on these projects. Is there a plan B? We might fail in our bid.
“I think there are a lot of myths perpetrated by big businesses about creating job opportunities and there seem to be quite a few changes to the Ashton Vale route.”
The council cabinet approved the proposals at a meeting on Thursday, but the final funding bids aren’t due to be submitted until September.
The Department for Transport is then due to make a decision in December.