Learn from the cities that turned to trams
The Mayor of Bristol’s public con
sultation on an underground rail system is ridiculous. There is no point in seeking public support for a proposal that is completely unaffordable.
Marvin Rees needs to talk to his counterpart in Bristol’s twin city of Bordeaux.
Twenty years was wasted there with proposals for an underground system but finally a new mayor buried the idea (pardon the pun) and opted instead for a tramway, which has now grown to be one of France’s largest networks and is hugely successful in doing what trams do best. It is largely streetbased and the road space for trams was reallocated from general traffic, mainly cars.
“Taking back the streets” has been extremely popular with the citizens of the CUB (Communauté Urbain de Bordeaux) – the equivalent of WECA, though there were obviously doubts at the start.
Bristol does not need a “new generation tramway” (ULR, VLR, etc) it simply needs to copy Bordeaux.
As for funding, Boris & Co simply need to accept that plans to spend £27.5 billion on building roads is no longer sustainable and that sum should be dedicated to tramway projects (only 40 years behind France).
In the face of the climate emergency, everyone has to realise our lifestyles must change and one vital aspect of that is reducing car dependency. There are insufficient resources to replace the nation’s 33 million fossil-fuelled cars by battery-powered equivalents and even if it was possible we would still be left with dangerous non-exhaust particulate emissions (from tyre, road surface and brake wear), which will increase due to the heavier weight of EVS, and there would still be major traffic congestion.
The time has come to recognise that we cannot have the levels of traffic which choke our city region and to plan a tram system in the streets which will be very attractive to car drivers. A bus system will simply not attract motorists in the way that trams can, and neither would it be seen as a catalyst for inward investment and the basis for growth in the local economy.
All over the world, investment in fixed-track public transport – especially modern tramways – has improved the quality of life, made car-free residential development possible and attracted developers to build new facilities.
Bristol (and Bath) need to learn from Bordeaux and dozens of other cities – hugely expensive underground systems are not needed; take back the streets and make them available to trams, cyclists and pedestrians only. Future generations will thank us for this. Andrew Braddock Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (FCILT) and entire career (1965-2003) was in public transport