A Greater Bristol Transport Authority
could be formed in as little as two years - and could help
create more local bus and train routes, more regular services
and may bring down prices.It is hoped the move would result in
a surge in the number of people using public transport, which
would help resolve Bristol's congestion
Labour's transport secretary Douglas
Alexander told delegates at the party conference last week
that new legislation will be unveiled within weeks to give
councils the power to ensure that privately-owned bus
companies plan routes and fares that serve local communities
If these ideas are driven forward, it is
believed a Greater Bristol Transport Authority would then be
formed to ensure the new powers are enforced effectively in
The authority would be formed predominantly
from councillors from the four local authorities - Bristol,
South Gloucestershire, B &NES and North Somerset - and
would therefore offer a broader and more unified approach to
assessing and tackling the area's transport needs.
Alexander said: "To ensure the private sector delivers the bus
services our communities demand I will act to empower local
communities. I will act to give the local transport
authorities that need them real powers to make a real
difference. This means local solutions designed for local
Transport 2000 spokesman David Redgewell said:
"I suspect there will be a white paper in November to help
take forward Mr Alexander's plans.
"And in order to
regulate the buses, you will need a delivery mechanism and
that would be creating the Greater Bristol Transport
Authority. That would mean a more unified approach to trains
as well as buses and I think we could see that happening in
around two years' time.
"Cities that already have such
an authority, like Manchester, have seen huge benefits. It
should enable the authority to impose strong conditions on
time-keeping, reliability and cleanliness as well as deciding
"I suspect 80 per cent of the bus routes
will still be run by First but the fares could come down if
there is investment from the authority and that has been the
case in some other cities with such authorities."
McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, says she has been putting the
case for a unified transport authority to government ministers
and has had a "very encouraging" response.
"Transport does not stop at county borders. Bristol has
suffered in the past because of the lack of a unified
authority - schemes such as Park and Ride have been hampered
by working between various authorities. There now seems to be
an understanding this could really happen."
campaign group - Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways -
visited transport experts in Birmingham recently and found
more than 50 per cent of commuters travel into Birmingham by
public transport, compared to just 11 per cent in
FOSBR chairman Peter Gould said the main
difference between the two cities was that Birmingham has a
Passenger Transport Executive, which provides a
more-integrated public transport system.
The four local
authorities have already worked together on a number of
schemes, including setting up a Joint Local Transport Plan,
which runs until 2011 and includes extending the Showcase bus
routes. However, campaigners say these and future schemes
would be delivered more effectively with a unified
In July ministers approved £42 million to
help fund the new bus routes.
Transport giant First
Group will contribute a further £20 million.
spokesman for First said: "We have been working very
effectively with the local authorities and if we can roll out
that success even further we would be very interested, but it
is difficult to say any more until the Government's plans