Nine new metrobus routes have been proposed as part of a major transport plan for the West of England region.
The ambitious projects laid out in the Joint Local Transport Plan sets out an £8.9billion wish-list of schemes for completion by 2036, including a £2.5billion “mass transit system” with sections of underground rail.
The latest edition of the plan was published on Tuesday (January 28) and little has changed since the draft version 18-months ago.
However it now includes a goal to ensure transport is carbon neutral by 2030, in line with the climate emergency recently declared by all four councils.
The revised plan also includes two more new metrobus routes, taking the total planned to nine.
According to the plan, led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), routes – which in some areas include extensions to current metrobus services – have been considered where they enable “sustainable economic growth and contribute to substantial improvements to accessibility”.
(Image: Tristan Cork)
The new schemes proposed
These were the original seven proposed new routes:
- Bristol city centre to Avonmouth and Severnside
- Almondsbury to Thornbury
- Bower Ashton to Nailsea and Clevedon
- Bristol to Bath along the A4 corridor, with potentially a light rail system extending from Hicks Gate to Bristol in the longer term
- Bristol Parkway via The Mall at Cribbs Causeway to Cribbs Patchway, serving Whitchurch and new Park and Ride sites at Whitchurch, Hicks Gate and the East Fringe
- an orbital route connecting south Bristol to Emerson’s Green via the ring road
- and a network for Weston-super-Mare to link the new Weston Villages developments, the accompanying M5 Junction 21 Enterprise Area, and the proposed Park and Ride site east of the town
The two additional routes are:
- Bromley Heath to Yate
- Bristol city centre to Bristol Airport
There is little detail about the Bromley Heath to Yate, but it likely to travel along the A432 and is linked to plans for a new Park and Ride in Yate.
Bristol Airport metrobus route
The Bristol Airport proposed route looks to be a short term fix while work takes place to progress and eventually build a mass transit system for the region.
The Bristol city centre to Bristol Airport has long been identified as a route for the mass transit, but according to the plan the network is likely to take between 10 and 20 years to deliver.
In the meantime it proposes using metrobus and possibly extending a current route.
According to the plan this would enable many to choose fast, frequent, space-efficient and a lower carbon mode choice to this local and regional transport interchange, instead of the private car.
More details about the likely timing and cost of some of the possible extensions are outlined below.
Bristol Parkway to The Mall via Cribbs Patchway
It looks like the metrobus extension to The Mall could be the first out of the starting blocks.
With a “low” price tag of up to £50million, it has an indicative delivery date of 2021.
An extension to the existing north Fringe to Hengrove route, it would run from Bristol Parkway railway station to The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.
On the way to The Mall, it would run via Hatchet Road, Gipsy Patch Lane, North Way and the proposed Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood on the former Filton airfield.
The scheme relies on the railway bridge at Gipsy Patch Lane being replaced with a wider bridge.
It also includes bus lanes on Gipsy Patch Lane and bus links at San Andreas roundabout.
Next up for possible delivery would be a metrobus scheme for Weston-super-Mare.
The scheme would serve Weston town centre, the new Weston villages developments and linked M5 junction 21 enterprise area, and a proposed new Park & Ride site to the east of the town.
With a “medium” price tag of up to £200million, the scheme could be up and running by 2026 if it is approved.
Bristol to Bath by metrobus
The Bath metrobus extension is more expensive and would be expected later.
Running through southeast Bristol, the new route is pencilled in for the medium to long term, meaning it would be built by 2026 or 2036.
The route could eventually connect with a light rail system from Hicks Gate to Bristol, according to the plan.
The estimated cost of the scheme comes in at more than £200million.
Orbital route connecting south Bristol to Emerson’s Green
Like the A4 Bath extension, the orbital route is a high-cost scheme that would likely be delivered in the medium to long term.
It would serve new development at Whitchurch and new Park & Ride sites planned for Whitchurch, Hicks Gate and Warmley.
The bus would run via a new A4-A37 link road and the A4174 Ring Road. The link road would go from A4 Hicks Gate to the A37 south of Whitchurch.
Bristol City Centre to Clevedon and Nailsea
Also expected between 2026 to 2036 if approved, this metrobus route has a “medium” price tag of £50million to £200million.
The metrobus route from Clevedon and Nailsea to Bristol City Centre would be a rapid transit, limited-stop service along dedicated bus lanes.
The section within Bristol would use the infrastructure for the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads route, which was completed in September 2018, according to the plan.
Bristol city centre to Avonmouth and Severnside
Although “low cost”, this would be one of the last metrobus extensions to be completed.
It would run between Bristol city centre and Severnside via the A403 and A4 Portway, connecting into existing metrobus infrastructure in central Bristol.
Stopping at the Portway Park & Ride, it would be a commuting option for employees at businesses in Severnside and Avonmouth.
The scheme would include greater priority for buses on the Portway and potential bus-only links into Severnside.
The £50million-or-less scheme would not be expected before 2036.
Draft Joint Local Transport Plan
The new metrobus routes would be part of an enhanced public transport network under the latest Joint Local Transport Plan.
If all the schemes laid out in the draft plan go ahead the bill would top more than £8.9billion.
West of England mayor Tim Bowles said: “I’m ambitious for our region, bringing partners together to improve transport on whole region basis, because people’s journeys don’t stop at council boundaries.
“The West of England Combined Authority is already investing millions in bus and train travel, and walking and cycling routes, to tackle congestion and improve air quality.
“Our longer-term transport plans will take time to develop and build – it’s important that we don’t just focus on quick fixes because we need sustainable solutions that will work into the future.
“We’ve got to find new ways of doing things, and we’re working on a new and ambitious mass transport system that will revolutionise the way we move people around the West of England, dramatically improving congestion and air quality while reducing our carbon emissions.”
Led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), and working with Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, the Joint Local Transport Plan is set to go before each individual council before being considered by WECA’s Joint Committee in March.