Quick update on the coming Festival Way bus-apocalypse... there's an excellent letter in a recent edition of the Post - Metrobus scheme is an insult to Bristol. Brizz_Tony's comment beneath is worth quoting in full, as it nails the financial lunacy that is being foisted upon us... apologies for the gurt cut n' paste:
It is first and foremost a road-building scheme, with a token bus service to justify it. It will not bring money into Bristol City Council, except for the Department for Transport's contribution towards this crackpot scheme. The cost of the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads route (AVTM) has risen by £2.4 million, and the engineering costs of the South Bristol Link (SBL) have been written up by £10 million before anyone with sense has wielded a shovel. Government funding for AVTM is £34.5 million, leaving £14.5 million for the councils to find. Under a bizarre deal struck by a former BCC, 80% of any over-runs falls to BCC, a formula which has already cost us £1.6 million. The engineering over-run, although dressed up as an accounting device, exposes us to an £8m hit before the Lord Mayor has cut the first sod, under a volley of ripe tomatoes. So there is no bonus for BCC, merely a (so far) bill of around £15m, just for the AVTM route, which will actually slow the journeys of 80% of the people who currently use the 903 to get to work, and which will mainly use public roads. This could actually add to congestion as drivers choose against the Long Ashton Park and Ride. The model for Bust Rabid Transit has been held up as the Cambridge BRT. That followed the closed St Ives to Cambridge railway, around 14 miles. To reopen the line would have cost around £42m. To build the Bust Rabid Transit was originally slated at around £60m, but was finally agreed between Cambridge CC and BAM Nutall as £83.9m. The final tab, after an acrimonious relationship between CCC and the contractors BAM Nutall, was £188m. That led to legal action, finally settled by the two parties with CCC paying BAM Nutall £84.7m on the steps of the court. But other matters pushed the cost of this scheme up to £152m. Legal costs etc meant that CCC have to dip their hands to their pockets to find £36 million, over and above their original profile. How much their council tax will have to rise to meet the interest payments may only become clear after the next election. In the meantime, the auguries are not good for libraries and swimming pools in Cambridgeshire, nor for Bust Rabid Transit. The Cambridge BRT is 14 miles of expensive concrete, using guided busways for safety along the the whole length, with breaks for crossing roads. I have found word of at least 5 serious accidents. The AVTM route will be the shortest, most pointless, and probably the most expensive guided busway. Either bus operators will need to be sure that fitting the special guiding kit to their buses is worthwhile, and that the new slower route is worthwhile, or BCC will have to subsidise the whole business, as well as pay interest on the loans we have to take to cover the inevitable cost over-runs, made essential by South Glos laying on new workers from Filton Airfield Residential Estate to work at the Enterprise Zone - 100% of the council tax receipts of a few £m yearly, some s106 agreements to pay for woefully inadequate provision for schools, later to be taken up by central government if they don't decide to abandon the area, but only 10% of the risk of this cr@p scheme which will only get their taxpayers as far as the BCC border before the bus hits the M32 queue into town. Death to Bust Rabid Transit will save us all but the fee for Atkins, who in 2005 advocated conversion of the Severn Beach line to a Bust Rabid Transit. The million passengers who will ride on it this year show the stupidity of that idea, as well as the value of railways when given then the chance. Get ready for a huge bill.
Additionally, there is growing anger over the impact of the BRT3 (North Fringe to Hengrove) Metrobus route upon the environment of Stoke Park. Unsurprisingly, many of the concerns echo those raised during the BRT2 planning applications... plus, there's a hefty war-of-words being fought over the rat-run-versus-shared-space issue on Avon Crescent.
Of course, if BCC are stupid enough to go ahead with this wretched scheme, then they deserve all the planning headaches that will be coming their way. It's just a shame that we will be paying for it.