Bristol Mayor calls for overarching transport authority in the style of Greater Manchester

George Ferguson was ambitious in his cycling plans at election - will this help him see them through?

by Sarah Barth   January 12, 2013  

bristol city centre.jpg

The Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, has called for a new overarching transport authority in the style of Transport for Greater Manchester.

Mr Ferguson believes that greater cooperation between his council in Bristol, and South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, would mean more joined up transport policy.

Speaking to the Bristol Evening Post, he said: "If you look at other city's such as Manchester they take a much more joined up and pragmatic approach.

"I have been speaking to the leader of Manchester City Council to see how they work together with the other councils in the area in such a successful way.

"Manchester is a very successful metropolitan area and is a good example of how neighbouring authorities can work together."

At a time when the budgets of all local authorities are being squeezed, Mr Ferguson believes it could be a cost-saving exercise too. The newly-elected mayor has been told he will have to oversee cuts of £30 million.

He added: "I think we should move towards being a metropolitan area in the way we run things.

"The first step towards that would be creating an integrated transport authority and an integrated planning authority.

"What is needed is a strategic overview for the area. I think we have been moving in the right direction but we could be doing a lot more."

The idea will be discussed at a full council meeting next week, and it's yet to be seen how a unitary authority could affect cyclists in the city.

Cycling in Bristol is a fraught topic, with the £20 million budget between 2008 and 2010 being spent rather secretively, according to Bike Radar.

Ferguson, despite describing himself as a 'wobbler' on a bike, was actually a founder of Sustrans, which bodes well for his policies.

In an interview with Life Cycle UK, Ferguson said cyclists were: "Fit eco heroes! Apart from walkers they are the people who are most doing their bit to improve Bristol's environment and help improve the degraded urban air quality that they suffer from.

"There is the odd idiot cyclist that gives cycling a bad name, but they are very much the exception."

Ferguson has already said he will attempt to dissuade parents from driving children to school, create shared use spaces and look into radial cycle paths into the city centre.

In Manchester, council bosses have said they are considering launching a cycle hire scheme similar to that of London as part of a range of measures aimed at turning it into England’s top cycling city with more people riding bikes there than anywhere else in the country by 2017.

It’s an ambitious plan, but one that has been drawn up in partnership with British Cycling, which has its headquarters in the city, as well as Transport for Greater Manchester.

Among the council’s aims to promote cycling, reports the Manchester Evening News, are a network of cycle routes alongside canalside towpaths, centred on Sportcity where the National Cycling Centre is located, a programme to repair potholes on key routes into the city centre, increased provision of cycle parking including underneath apartment blocks that are currently planned, free cycle training and encouraging more women to take to two wheels.

4 user comments

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I hate to burst anyone's bubble, and this goes beyond the remit of a cycling website, but Manchester's Transport Authority is really not a good example to be copying.
We have been promised an Oyster style card for years but it has been strangled because the various local authorities cannot agree on a system whereby they are properly compensated for journeys on subsidised bus routes that cross local authority boundaries (of which there are many). There is also a situation where the north of the city has a different bus operator than the south so cross city travel is very difficult.
And dont get me started on our useless Metrolink 'system, our hell on earth trains and woeful cycling policies.
I think George really does need to think about looking elsewhere.

posted by Some Fella [766 posts]
12th January 2013 - 17:04

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Completely agree Some Fella, the current Metrolink extension is an example of a non-integrated policy. The new trams, bikes not carried, will replace current local trains where bikes are carried.

CycCoSi's picture

posted by CycCoSi [22 posts]
13th January 2013 - 6:57

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Integrated planning authority? Is old red trousers trying to snatch control of the green belt from south gloucs and north Somerset? And maybe force through the misguided bus?

Not sure whether it would help cycling or not, but someone needs to regulate the first group near-monopoly around Bristol. Maybe there would even be decent bike carriage policies on trains and buses.

posted by a.jumper [704 posts]
13th January 2013 - 10:14

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Greater Manchester is a long way from being anyone's idea of a public transport utopia.

Some Fella is right, and in particular the confusion of transport companies (without the overarching stick that, say, Transport for London has over the capital's network) leaves the network user confused and short-changed by an impractical network driven primarily not by the needs of the public but by the profit motive.

If I were to get the bus to work (I cycle, obv.), I'd have the choice of three companies with three different prices running exactly the same route. Bonkers.

The Metrolink is a real busted flush of a transport network - it should be great, but dithering, curious planning choices (still no link to either the Trafford Centre or the Airport, though a languorous route to the latter is planned), limited capacity, poor integration, inter-borough infighting and a baffling price structure has rendered it a minority activity, with most Mancunians rarely using it.

Cycling-wise, Manchester's not the worst and not the best, though positive noises are emanating from at least one of the ten councils. To be fair, the problems are infrastructural and unlikely to be resolved in these times of austerity. Happily, nobody's wasted money on blue paint quite yet...

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posted by Ghedebrav [1098 posts]
13th January 2013 - 11:14

1 Like