FoSBR is concerned at a lack of interest in ensuring opportunities for bus – rail interchange at our local stations. This has come to a head with the new Ashley Down station.
Construction of the new Ashley Down station began in March and is progressing well. However no attempt has been made to improve bus-rail Interchange at Ashley Down. In fact Bristol City council have stated that the location of existing stops is adequate and no further action is required. We find this both remarkable and concerning.
Bus stops too far away
The current arrangement is wholly inadequate. There are bus stops in the area, but they are too far away to provide a proper interchange. For example, there is only a northbound bus stop on Muller Road underneath the railway bridge with no apparent plans to install a southbound one. Similarly, on Shaldon Road there is only a northbound bus stop. We understand that Bristol City Council has even considered removing this!
These stops serve routes to Southmead Hospital, Lockleaze and Eastville. Southmead Hospital has significant problems with parking and congestion and is an important destination for people around the region. Lockleaze and Eastville are areas of significant deprivation, where car ownership is relatively low. This limits access to employment opportunities. Bus journeys to are often slow as a result of congestion and insufficient regularity whereas train journeys are rapid. Existing rail services already serve many employment areas, such as the City Centre, Severnside and Yate. Interchange at the few places where this is possible can allow journeys to other locations, such as at Bristol Parkway or UWE where MetroWest trains and local buses can enable journeys to Emerson’s Green Science Park and Cribbs Causeway.
We have argued that better interchange between bus and train at Ashley Down station would enable easier and quicker journeys to Southmead Hospital from further afield, and better access to employment from local areas. It would also allow people to make a variety of journeys by public transport that are currently difficult or unrealistic. At present the absence of a stop in one direction means there is a long gap between stops and a considerable walk is required up steep hills. This does not encourage people to travel by public transport.
FoSBR use planning process
Frustrated by a lack of response to our campaigns, FoSBR has submitted a pre-application planning request to Bristol City Council planning department. Our intention is to show that interchange is possible and, we hope, to finally push the council into action. In this pre-app we have suggested locations for bus stops. We have also included signage to point the way between trains and buses, and suggested types of real-time information for both.
In other core cities such Manchester, Nottingham or Leeds, we believe that bus-rail interchange would have been included in the design process for the new station. We don’t think they would consider removing an existing local bus stop, making interchange harder. Nor do we think they would fail to add a bus adjacent to a station where one exists for travel in the opposite direction.
We urge the West of England Combined Authority to work closely with Bristol City Council to provide proper bus rail Interchange at Ashley Down station and to set the precedent of fully integrating bus and rail services.